Ron Hartl stood behind a building, dressed in a bright yellow vest, intently looking down at a controller in his hands – almost as if he were playing a video game.
But it was no game. The Chetek man used the video controller to fly a sophisticated drone with precision while maneuvering around obstacles.
That’s one of several things Hartl needed to do to pass the commercial drone course at Chippewa Valley Technical College.
“Flying a drone is an adventure, and I’m always up for an adventure,” Hartl said of taking the class.
In June, the Federal Aviation Administration introduced new requirements for all recreational drone pilots to pass an additional aeronautical knowledge and safety test. The Recreational UAS Safety Test (TRUST) collaborates between the FAA and the industry to provide continuing education and training to recreational flyers.
All recreational flyers must provide proof of test passage (the TRUST completion certificate) to the FAA or law enforcement upon request.
CVTC is one of only 17 organizations named an FAA-Approved Test Administrator of TRUST. As a test administrator, CVTC offers certification locally and helps make this fun and enjoyable activity more accessible and available to people in our region.
Hartl was interested in the TRUST certification and completing the commercial course to potentially use his drone to make extra spending money.
“I like photography – that’s mostly what drones are used for – and I like radio-controlled stuff,” Hartl said. “With a license, I can make some money on the side.
“And I’m basically a big kid. Growing up is for other people.”
Even before the TRUST test and certification, CVTC offered drone courses, said Shawn Creviston, instructor.
In 2017, CVTC was offering two classes, one day a week, with four drones. Today, Creviston teaches three classes, two days a week, with 13 drones.
“We want people to get used to the controls and all of the automated tools,” he said. “The whole point is to get smooth, clean shots while in flight. We’re looking at smoothness and accuracy. That takes some time to get used to.”
Hartl said he’s glad he obtained the TRUST recreational license and ended the summer with the commercial use course at CVTC.
“Shawn (Creviston) is so good. He will answer all questions and take his time doing it,” Hartl said. “Now, I can continue to record the progress of an addition to my cabin. I have a lot of pictures.”