It’s been your goal for a long time to learn how to pilot a drone, but you don’t have time to attend an in-person course. Fortunately, there are plenty of online drone schools to choose from. You can learn at your own pace until you master drone flight, or even get the certification you’re after. But with so many choices out there, it can be hard to tell which ones are the top online drone schools. Here’s our take on which ones offer the best training:
Here are the best online drone schools for 2021:
In this extensive guide, we’ll discuss each of the above 10 online drone schools in detail, including an overview of the instructors, what you can learn, and the cost. By the time you’re done reading, you’ll be able to select the best online drone school for you!
UAV Coach / Drone Pilot Ground School
UAV Coach is the parent company of the well-known Drone Pilot Ground School. Alan Perlman is the founder and CEO of UAV Coach. His primary goal starting out was to help drone pilots pass the FAA exam to earn their Part 107 license, which is the course now offered as Drone Pilot Ground School.
The high-quality training offered in the ground school course quickly led to demand for training in other areas and at higher levels. This opened up to the creation of the broader drone training offerings now available through UAV Coach.
You can select from four drone training classes offered through UAV Coach:
- FAA Recreational Flyer Training (TRUST)
- Drone Pilot Ground School – FAA Commercial Certification (Part 107)
- Hands-on Drone Flight Training
- Virtual Drone Coaching
We’ll talk about everything but the hands-on drone training, as that’s not offered online.
The FAA Recreational Flyer Training or TRUST program is a new FAA requirement as of summer 2021 for US drone pilots. UAV Coach is an FAA-approved TRUST test administrator and will get you up to date on TRUST regulations in about half an hour even if you know next to nothing about drones (or nothing at all). You have unlimited attempts to pass this test online to gain your certification to fly a drone recreationally.
Drone Pilot Ground School
UAV Coach’s FAA Commercial Certification course, also known as Drone Pilot Ground School, has had more than 35,000 students successfully pass the FAA Part 107 knowledge test.
Bonus lessons cover topics such as drone business operations and practical flight knowledge so you’ll be well prepared to fly once you have your license.
As a student at the Drone Pilot Ground School, you gain access to more than 70 video lectures that you can watch at your leisure. Flight proficiency lessons will teach you how to operate your drone using flight sequences.
For each video, there’s a lesson that includes additional information in written format, as well as a full-text transcript of the video. You can also take a short quiz to test your knowledge of the concepts you just learned.
The curriculum is as follows:
- Welcome to Drone Pilot Ground School
- Drone Rules and FAA Regulations
- Night Operations Training
- National Airspace System (NAS)
- Reading Sectional Charts
- Airport Operations
- Weather and Micrometeorology
- Drone Flight Operations
- Bonus Lessons
Virtual Drone Coaching
The Virtual Drone coaching class will tell you everything you need to know about your drone once you get it out of the box. UAV Coach will guide you through such topics as:
- Drone setup
- Downloading the accompanying app
- Registering your drone through the FAA
- Safely charging your battery
- Updating firmware
- Drone flight rules
- Airport flight rules
- Airspace flight regulations
- Drone videography and photography
- Drone troubleshooting
- Advanced flight features
Then you can schedule a virtual session for 60 minutes. You’ll work with a UAV Coach expert to get your issues dealt with. The team will send you a follow-up email after the session wraps up, that’s chock full of resources, extra guides, and notes to follow.
The FAA Commercial Certification (Part 107) course costs $299 and a Virtual Drone Coaching session is available for $99. Special pricing is available on certain courses based on group size.
Drone Pro Academy
Chris Newman is the face of Drone Pro Academy. Newman has more than two decades in the world of cinematography and film, which he used to transition into work as a remote-controlled aerial photographer and videographer today.
The resume of clients Newman filmed for is huge, everyone from Mountain Dew to Sony, Bass Pro Shops, McDonald’s, Lexus, and Bear Naked Granola.
Since starting Drone Pro Academy, Newman has had more than 12,000 students pass through its virtual doors.
Drone Pro Academy has four courses to select from:
In the Cinematic Drone Secrets course, you’ll learn such techniques as the drone jib, the closeup, the chicken shot, the skywalker, and the tilt-up reveal.
If you enroll in Drone Photography Secrets, Newman will instruct you on editing your photos and how to use drone photography features like the Automatic Panorama available in some DJI drones.
We discussed Newman’s FAA Part 107 Bootcamp in our post about the best Part 107 online courses. Be sure to give that a read!
Newman’s Professional Course is a combo deal that combines all his courses into one mega lesson that will also teach you how to make money with your drone.
All his courses have multiple modules with videos and text lessons that are yours for a lifetime. You can also join Newman’s exclusive group of drone students, but only as a member.
If you’re not happy with the Drone Pro Academy courses, Newman offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Newman’s courses start at $47.
The third online drone school we recommend is Pilot Institute. The Prescott, Arizona company was founded by Greg Reverdiau and Johann Beishline. Reverdiau has an Aviation Human Factors master’s degree and acts as an FAA Safety Team Representative.
The first Pilot Institute course was created to ease aspiring drone students into taking and passing their Part 107 exams, but the course offerings quickly grew from there. Pilot Institute received accreditation from IACET and is the only program of its kind to do so.
Students from all over the world have flocked to the online-based Pilot Institute, representing nearly 100 countries. The number of students who have taken the course is well over 100,000.
Should you choose Pilot Institute to become a drone pilot, rest assured that the courses are led by real remote pilots, flight instructors, and FAA commercial pilots.
Here is a full list of online courses you can enroll in as a Pilot Institute student:
Each course includes hours of video instruction as well as a bevy of assignments to improve your knowledge retention and take what you learn from theory to practice.
Drone Launch Academy
Another online drone school that allows you to learn from current and former drone professionals is Drone Launch Academy.
Although they’re best known for their Part 107 drone exam prep, Drone Launch Academy offers so much more. Here is a list of their courses in full:
In the Drone Business Mastery course, you’ll learn from real experts in the industry as well as drone business owners on how they’ve used their drones to forge a successful career path.
The DJI courses will help you understand your drone inside and out.
If you’re completely new to drones, the Drones 101 course is a great place to start. You’ll learn every part of your drone and receive basic exercises that can help you go from a beginner to a seasoned pilot sooner than you’d think.
Drone Launch Academy segments its lessons into digestible videos. Each video is HD quality so you can pick up on all the minute details of learning to fly your drone. Some courses have practice questions and study guides.
You can even take advantage of live online office hours that occur every week. During office hours, you’ll have a chance to take part in a live Q&A with drone pilots and experts.
The cost of the courses at Drone Launch Academy varies depending on the class. The FAA Part 107 Exam Prep Course costs $199, the Aerial Photo Pro course is $249, the Aerial Video: A to Z class costs $397, and the Aerial Roof Inspection Pro course is $499.
Peltier Photo Course
John Peltier of Peltier Photo Course was an F-15E Air Force pilot for almost a decade and even bravely served in Afghanistan. Once he retired from military service, Peltier dedicated himself to helping others with his unique skillset.
That’s inspired him to start Peltier Photo Course. Outside of his flight background, Peltier is with Photographers Without Borders as an Associate Photographer. He’s also done several photodocumentaries, so he has the chops to teach you and others about drone photography.
Here is a full list of the courses available through the Peltier Photo Course:
Although not all his courses are applicable to drone pilots, if your drone has a Fujifilm camera, there’s a lot of useful information to learn from Peltier. You can even pick up photo-editing skills so your drone portfolio will look fantastic.
Peltier’s lessons use video and quizzes (depending on the topic) to help reinforce what you’re learning.
Peltier Photo Course classes are priced differently by the course. Some are free, others charge you monthly, and others still have a one-time flat fee of $30 or so.
Abby Speicher is the founder of DARTDrones, an online drone school that strives to help with “scenario-based online training, and mission-specific advanced training” in areas such as aerial videography, aerial mapping, and thermal imaging. You can also get trained on what you need to know for your FAA Part 107 exam.
The training offered by DARTDrones ranges from the basic to the extremely technical and advanced, so if you’re looking to make drone piloting into a career, this is a good place to look for professional training.
The team of instructors available at DARTDrones includes thermal drone pilots, drone photographers, military veterans, private pilots, drone business owners, search and rescue team members, airline pilots, and more.
DARTDrones offers a series of online courses that are as follows:
- Online Part 107 Test Preparation ($250)
- Trusted Operator Program Level 1 Certification ($649)
- Trusted Operator Program Level 2 Certification ($1,850)
- Real-World Flight Planning & Execution Program ($399)
- Virtual Mapping and Modeling Workshop ($780)
- Virtual Aerial Inspections Workshop ($780)
- Disaster Response ($299)
- Night Flight Package ($299)
- Drones for Beginners ($19.99)
- Starting a Drone Business ($300)
- Online Aerial Photography ($150)
The lesson formatting for DARTDrones varies. Some of the courses, such as Drones for Beginners, feature video lessons that you can watch and re-watch to your heart’s content in a high-definition seamless video.
Others, such as the Virtual Mapping and Modeling Workshop and the Virtual Aerial Inspections Workshop feature virtual lessons where you sit down for several hours and review a professor’s instruction. There’s certainly something for everyone at DARTDrones!
Rob Burdick and Tim Ray were co-owners of a mortgage company around 2014 when they met Paul Aitken, a successful drone pilot. Burdick and Ray were inspired to begin teaching others how to fly drones with Aitken at the helm, and Drone U was soon born.
Since its founding, Drone U has trained more than 18,000 students!
Drone U offers a combination of fleet training, in-person training, and online training to accommodate a wide range of students. Since we’re talking about online drone schools, we’ll focus Drone U’s online lessons.
You can get your Part 107 drone license training through Drone U, or take any of the following video courses:
- Beginner Practice & Tips
- First Time Flying
- Don’t Crash Course
- Common FAA & UAS Terms Defined & Explained
- Safe Drone Operations
- Comprehensive Mapping
- Advanced Mapping Resources
- Shooting & Mapping Construction Sites
- Cell Tower Mapping
- 3D Interactive Modeling
- Solar Inspection with Drones
- Search & Rescue with Drones
- How to Launch & Grow a Drone Business
- Practice Drills & Exercises
- Flying Over Water
- Build a Drone
- Real Estate Videography
- Advanced Aerial Videography
- Final Cut Pro X Basics
- Editing Drone Video with Final Cut Pro
- Filters for Video & Photography
- Intermediate Mapping
- Comprehensive Aerial Photography
- Still Photography
- Understanding the Exposure Triangle
- Photography Hacks
- Photo Editing
- Night Photography Using a Drone
- Lightroom Automation
- Light Painting
- Into the Drone Thermography
- Subject Tracking Fast Moving Objects
- FAA UAS Symposium
- FPV Racing
- Roof Inspection with Drones
Drone U also offers a series of online modules, including:
- Drone Systems
- Flying Technique
- Business & Commercialization
- Motion & Cinematography
- Certified Pilot
The Amateur courses include 61 lessons and 14 courses for 19 hours, 40 minutes of content. The Intermediate lessons have 72 lessons and 15 courses, which is 36 hours, eight minutes of content overall. The Pro classes boast 76 lessons and 12 courses for 23 hours, 59 minutes of informative content!
To take advantage of the multitude of lessons available at Drone U, you’ll have to become a member. The Pro Monthly plan costs $47 a month and includes:
- Business and drone expert access
- Live class replays
- Part 107 drone license test prep
- All training
- Webinar replays
- Five percent off online training
- Five percent off in-person classes
You can also pay for the Pro Annual plan, which is $470 per year. This more encompassing plan gets you:
- Business and drone expert access
- Live class replays
- Part 107 drone license test prep
- All training
- Webinar replays
- 10 percent off online training
- 10 percent off in-person classes
Drone Masterclass Academy
Drone Masterclass Academy is led by three masterful instructors: Dean Chisolm, Paul Gavranich, and Aaron Rajamoney. Chisolm runs a media company in Australia and is a passionate drone pilot and photographer. Gavranich has degrees in video and film and boasts lots of experience in video production and drone piloting.
Rajamoney has made a career out of drone piloting and wants to share his experience through Drone Masterclass Academy.
The courses offered through this online drone school are recommended for aspiring and seasoned professionals who want to learn something new. Here’s a full list of the Drone Masterclass Academy classes:
- Real Estate Masterclass
- Drone Inspections Masterclass ($197)
- Drone Cinematography Masterclass ($59)
- Drone FPV Masterclass ($49)
Drone Masterclass Academy also offers a Business Starter Pack for aspiring business owners, drone safety sign templates, cinematic color-grading LUTS, pre-flight checklists, and a job profit calculator. You can watch more than 200 video lessons as well.
Unmanned Vehicle University
The last online drone school we recommend is Unmanned Vehicle University. Here, you can receive education in areas such as aerial cinematography, UAV pilot training, enterprise UAS training, and UAS multispectral operations. Not all the courses are exclusively online, though.
The UAV pilot training course is to obtain your Part 107 license through the FAA. The class is divided into three phases. The first phase is 16 hours of education at Unmanned Vehicle University’s web-based ground school.
Then you move onto phase two, which is 10 hours with their PC-based drone simulator.
The third phase is two days of flight training based on what you learned. The instructors who guide you in this course are chief pilots and UAV pilots themselves.
The cost of Unmanned Vehicle University’s services starts at over $1,000, so the courses are much more expensive than the other online drone schools we’ve discussed, but you get the advantage of in-person training and experience.
If you want to learn about drones from the comfort of your home or wherever you most spend your time, an online drone school is a perfect solution for you. Video lessons let you re-watch content until you absorb it, and modules, test questions, and study guides reinforce the concepts you learn.
Although a lot of online drone schools are concerned with helping you earn your FAA Part 107 drone pilot license, plenty more of these schools offer further drone flight services if you dig a little deeper.
Whether your budget for learning to fly a drone is very low, moderate, or high, there’s an online drone school for you on this list!