charity work

Ask Drone Girl: Do I really need to get my Part 107 certification?

Next up in our “Ask Drone Girl” series is about hobby vs. commercial drone flying. If you have a question for Drone Girl, contact her here.
I was thinking about taking the Part 107, but was curious if I need to. I would really only fly for fun, but I have a friend that has an non-profit charity for a children’s hospital. I was considering taking a few pictures for him as a favor during a golf outing he has each year. I would not be paid and would be doing it as a hobby for fun and giving to him for a memory.
Is there any legality issues with that. If he put them online on Facebook or something would it be a problem?
-Jeff
Hey Jeff,
This is an excellent question, and I love how you are using drones for good — for charity work in fact! What an excellent cause.
As far as using a drone for charity work without Part 107, let’s consult the FAA’s words themselves.
Recreational or hobby UAS use is flying for enjoyment and not for work, business purposes, or for compensation or hire. In the FAA’s Interpretation of the Special Rule for Model Aircraft, the FAA relied on the ordinary, dictionary definition of these terms. UAS use for hobby is a “pursuit outside one’s regular occupation engaged in especially for relaxation.” UAS use for recreation is “refreshment of strength and spirits after work; a means of refreshment or division.”
You are certainly doing this outside of your regular occupation, and you could definitely argue that your use of a drone for charity work does qualify as refreshing of your strengths and spirits.
If you are flying for recreational purposes, make sure that you are flying in accordance with the Special Rule for Model Aircraft (Public Law 112-95 Section 336), which means you need to fly within visual line-of-sight, give way to manned aircraft, provide prior notification to the airport and air traffic control tower, if one is present, when flying within 5 miles of an airport, and register your drone with the FAA.

If you receive any sort of compensation (yes, a free meal at the event can count as compensation), then you need to fly in accordance with the FAA’s Small UAS Rule (Part 107). That means you’ll have to get your remote pilot certificate or be under the direct supervision of someone who holds such a certificate.
It sounds to me like your situation qualifies as hobby use since you are giving the images to someone for free and posting them to Facebook. (If you posted to YouTube and collected ad revenue, then that would be a different story).
That being said, it is totally worth getting your Part 107 certification anyway. While it was definitely tough, passing this test is your first entry into the safest airspace in the world. And it feels awesome to have that certificate proving you have substantial knowledge of our airspace.
There are tons of great study courses that I will link to below this video including UAV Ground School (save $25 with coupon code DRONEGIRL) and Drone Pilot Ground School. I used Drone Pilot Ground School and passed on my first time!
Happy flying, and thanks for using your drone for good!

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