This is an account of my training experience, I have spoken to many people who have been through the process with other companies and it seems many are not happy. I suppose its because the training costs so much and even for the training companies this is a new process for them a profitable process for them all the same.
Or perhaps its because many of the processes seem very frustrating but if this is what the CAA wants the standard to be then we drone pilots need to do this process, have the knowledge that they want us to have. My main thoughts are that we are becoming commercial pilots and we have to be safe so this training is essential but over time it will get quicker and there are areas of the training / theory that will be dropped.
As previous blog post, this training arena is now a competitive business and so I am sure the delivery of this training will improve/ has already improved.
Web based Training
This may have now changed but with Resource Group there was web based training that I was given access to as soon as I had signed up for the course. This gave me 6 weeks to do this training. I was keen I started it straight away, which is unlike me as I normally I leave my homework until the last minute. Each section – I think 9 or 10 in total with a small test at the end. This was great at giving you a grounding in, airspace rules, weather, map reading, principles of flight and various other bits of theory.
It was not very well designed but as web based training it did the job. At least you could switch off the irritating voice reading out the content that it was often distorted. You could do the test and then it would not recognise you had done that section which was frustrating. At least it was not adding to an overall mark somewhere. The tests also highlighted to me where I just had not retained the information enabling me to go over that section again. Some of the animations and diagrams were brilliant at explaining the theory.
You could go back over items again and again as much as you liked, which I found very useful. Some of the guys on my course had not completed the training as they had been told it would take a day. There was no way you could do it in a day and I am so glad I spent the time reading and making notes.
With Resource group the first thing you do is take a theory test on the subjects you had covered in the web training, this enabled you and the instructors to find out where you needed to have extra explanation. Ground school went into more detail with subjects covered in the so this background was needed.
My course had 14 people in it. From all walks of life some ex- military, photographers, film makers, construction company employees and surveyors plus entrepreneurs.
The instructors ex military themselves, both had been flying UAV’s for 10 years in the Army. One obviously very experienced in training others and made it a fun learning process. The other seemed to forget we had paid a lot of money for the course and were not army recruits and I am glad that the more experienced one of the team was leading this course. If someone has invested time and money, they are listening don’t you worry about that.
The ground course in effect lasted only 2 days although you are there for 3 full days. You cover so much on day’s 1 and 2 – because the actual theory test, ground school assessment happens on the morning of day 3. Which you needed to pass with at least 70% (if my memory serves me correctly).
There was a good student handbook that was laid out very well and I needed this when I was writing my ops manual, and revising what I had learnt in the day. The instructor leading the course was very good at helping us all understand the concepts, the theory and highlighting the bits you really needed to understand to complete the ground school assessment. I am someone who finds it very difficult retain facts and figures but I got 83% in this test. So the instruction must had been good.
The 3rd day after the test, one instructor marked the tests and the other covered how to write the flight reference cards and the Ops manual. All the practical things you will need to do on site were covered. Deployment task demonstrations and then we got to put that in to practice that we were given flights to plan.
Then we found out if we had passed or not. On this course we all passed. I have heard from other people who have been through this process not everyone passes. Don’t worry about this, but my advice would be in every class room situation. Ask questions even if you think its a silly question,because there will be someone who sat there thinking they would like to ask that question. The lead instructor was always checking we understood and he used some great techniques to check if we did all indeed understand.
Once you have completed ground school you loose access to the web based training, and actually it would have been handy tool to refer back to.
I really enjoyed meeting all the people on this course and I am still in touch with many of them. Some got their PFWA really quickly and some have decided not to go any further. One very quickly after the ground school and others because it seemed like too much hard work in addition to their jobs and have decided they are just flying as a hobby.
With resource group at this time you had just 90 days to move to the next process. Which is after ground school are released into the open to go off and write your Flight Assessment cards FRC’s, ready for your flight test. I will cover this in my next blog post.