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How to Get a Drone License in Michigan (Explained for Beginners)

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From Roosevelt Park to Hart Plaza, Michigan has many exceptional places to launch your next exciting flight.

The Great Lake State requires drone pilots to have a license, just like elsewhere in the United States. How to get a drone license in Michigan?

Here’s how to get a drone license in Michigan:

  • Meet basic FAA eligibility rules
  • Obtain an FAA Tracking Number
  • Register at your nearest FAA Knowledge Testing Center
  • Study well
  • Pass the Part 107 exam
  • Send IACRA your completed Form 8710-13

Although easy once you get the hang of it, the process of becoming a licensed drone pilot can be tough for first-time pilots to navigate. Never fear!

This guide is designed to help you through every website registration and requirement.

Let’s get started.

Here’s how to obtain a drone license in Michigan #

When the FAA instituted its drone pilot regulations, it did so to ensure all aircraft in the sky operate safely. That’s why you must have a commercial or recreational certificate before using your drone.

The recreational license is called the TRUST certificate. It’s necessary if you plan on flying your drone in your backyard or other enjoyable scenarios but without making money.

The Remote Pilot Certificate is the commercial license. I recommend this for most pilots, as you have more flight responsibilities and can use your drone for profit.

Here are the steps for obtaining your commercial drone license.

Meet basic FAA eligibility rules #

The FAA only allows pilots over 16 years old to take the Unmanned Aircraft General – Small (UAG) exam. However, that’s not the only requirement.

You must also have full English comprehension and be physically and mentally capable of drone operation.

Obtain an FAA Tracking Number #

The easiest part of the process is already finished. Next, it’s time to get your own FAA Tracking Number or FTN.

The FAA requires all airmen registering into its system to have an FTN. This identifier helps the FAA track your aeronautic activity to ensure you fly safely. It’s also used to verify your identity at various points, which you’ll need as you complete obtaining your commercial drone license.

You must have an account on the Integrated Airmen Certification and Rating Application website to get an FTN. IACRA is an FAA resource that minimizes the paper trail for pilots obtaining certificates.

There’s lots more to it than that, of course. IACRA is also valuable for documentation, training, general FAA information, and certificate registry. Bookmark the site, as you’ll use IACRA a lot throughout this process and beyond.

First, you need an IACRA account, attainable by visiting the homepage per the link above and clicking the small Register link under the login box on the right.

Select at least one applicable role for registration, with applicant the one most first-time aspiring commercial drone pilots choose.

Don’t forget to agree to IACRA’s terms of service to proceed to the next page. You can’t miss it, as it’s a large button that says Agree to TOS and Continue.

After clicking that, you’ll see a section on the second page for Certificate Information. You can skip this for now and still register. That section is for pilots with an FAA certification, which isn’t you yet.

Instead, start at the second section on this page, Personal Information. Each name field you type must have under 50 characters. Input your date of birth, your gender, and email address.

The section under that requires you to select two security questions from a dropdown menu, and type in your answers. This information can help the FAA verify it’s you trying to access your account if you forget your login credentials.

Speaking of, you’ll create those credentials next, generating a unique username and password. Confirm your password, click the Register button, and await a confirmation email from IACRA.

Once you receive the confirmation email, log into IACRA and check your profile information. You should see your FTN in your profile.

Now that you’re in the FAA’s system, you’re ready to proceed with the next step in obtaining your Michigan drone license, and this is the biggie! 

Register at your nearest FAA Knowledge Testing Center #

It’s time to register to take your commercial drone exam. The FAA administers the exams at Knowledge Testing Centers, nationwide approved testing buildings.

Finding your nearest FAA Knowledge Testing Center begins by registering for an account on PSI, the FAA’s testing partner.

Remember how I mentioned you’d use your FTN to verify your identity throughout this process? This is one of those times.

PSI requires your FTN and full name to verify your identity before you’re even allowed to create an account.

To begin the process, click the link to the PSI website above. Click the Create an Account button on the homepage (it’s white) and input the above information. If PSI approves you (and there’s no reason they shouldn’t since you have a valid FTN), you can continue registering.

Create another unique set of login credentials, including a username and password. Just as you did when you made an account on IACRA, watch your inbox for a confirmation email from PSI.

You can now log in and use the full extent of the PSI website. There’s lots of valuable information here, including practice exams and FAQs.

For now, click the Find a Test Center link. You’ll be asked to input your postal code (zip code), country, and exam type. Select the United States for your country and the Unmanned Aircraft General – Small (UAG) for the exam type. That’s all the way at the bottom of the dropdown menu.

You can select the distance you’re willing to drive to find an FAA Knowledge Testing Center, choosing between five and 300 miles. When you’ve input your parameters, click the blue Search button, and PSI will return a list of the closest Knowledge Testing Centers.

You can review more information about each one, including directions. Select a Knowledge Testing Center, lock in your date and time for the Part 107 exam, and you’re already closer to becoming a commercial drone pilot.

Study well #

Now comes probably the most important part of the entire process: studying for the Unmanned Aircraft General – Small (UAG) exam.

Unlike the other parts of becoming a commercial pilot I’ve reviewed, this one has no set protocol, so aspiring pilots can often go wrong. They realize when they sit down to take the exam that they didn’t study enough or focused on the wrong material.

I don’t want that for you! The Part 107 exam costs $165 a pop, so it’s not cheap to take once, let alone retake.

I’ve compiled a list of the best drone courses for beginners. These online courses for first-timers will teach you about all aspects of drone operation, from how to launch, fly, and land to drone photography and videography.

You can also find plenty of Part 107 prep. These courses are designed to facilitate your knowledge of FAA regulations and laws, as you will be tested on these extensively during the commercial drone exam.

You can test your knowledge on practice exams that use real FAA questions and speak one-on-one with your instructor if you need further guidance. The instructors include current and former FAA pilots and commercial drone users, so rest assured that you’re learning from the best.

The money-back guarantees should give you peace of mind. You have to pay for online drone courses, but you can receive a full refund and the cost of your next FAA exam if you don’t pass. With pass rates of over 95 percent for most courses, you shouldn’t have to take advantage of that guarantee.

Pass the Part 107 exam #

Test day has arrived. It’s natural to be nervous but brush up on your material one more time and walk into the Knowledge Testing Center with confidence.

The Unmanned Aircraft General – Small (UAG) exam consists of multiple-choice questions. You will receive a testing booklet, a writing instrument, and scrap paper. The exam has 60 questions, and you have two and a half hours to complete it.

You must score 70 percent on the exam to pass, so you can answer 18 of the 60 questions incorrectly. That gives you a decent margin of error.

You’re not allowed to have your phone on you. The Knowledge Testing Center will provide a locker for you to keep it. You can bring a calculator (only those that do math functions) and a protractor, but you can take the exam without these tools.

Your test results will appear in your IACRA profile. I know you want them tomorrow, but it’s not always that immediate. You might get your test results back in several days, but it’s not unheard of for it to take several weeks. Be patient!

Send IACRA your completed Form 8710-13 #

You checked your IACRA profile like a hawk, and finally, your test results appeared. You passed! Awesome!

The final step of the process is to send an IACRA request for a temporary license by completing FAA Form 8710-13.

You need a temporary license because it can take the FAA several weeks, sometimes longer, for your permanent license to arrive.You don’t want to lose any time you could spend flying, so use the temporary license.

You can access Form 8710-13 by logging into IACRA and choosing Start New Application. You will see options for the Application Type, so choose Pilot. Next, pick Remote Pilot for the Certifications category, then Other Path Information and Start Application.

Follow along with the prompts, and when you reach the end, sign electronically. After submitting your application, IACRA will review it. That will include forwarding your information to the TSA for a security and background check.

Once you’re cleared, IACRA will send you an email containing your temporary license. You can download, print, and use it as you wish.

I have my commercial drone license in Michigan – Now what? #

Obtaining your Remote Pilot Certificate is only the beginning.

Before you can fly your drone, register it with the FAA. You’re required to register every commercial drone in your fleet for $5 each. The registration lasts for three years.

I also recommend reading up on Michigan drone laws. You spent so long studying federal FAA laws, but don’t forget to become abreast of the state and local laws.

Statewide, SB 992 prevents pilots from using their drones for harassment, SB 54 prevents pilots from interfering with hunting and fishing, and Order 5.1 State Parks and Recreation Areas bans drones from those locales.

Locally, West Bloomfield made all parks no-fly zones. The University of Michigan and the Mt. Brighton Ski Resort are similarly off-limits.

I recommend drone insurance if you don’t already have it. Michigan might not require it, but you should want it for the peace of mind that if you hurt someone or cause property damage when using your drone you’d have some form of protection.

Your Remote Pilot Certificate will expire within two years of when it’s issued to you. Gone are the days when you had to pay and study for the Part 107 exam every two years.

The FAA changed its guidance in 2021, and now you can take a free online exam when you have an afternoon and recertify that way. Read our post on the process here.


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