The first step to consider toward achieving the goal of becoming a UAV operator is simply by becoming being a hobbyist.

Police UAV pilot: A career path less traveled by

with Doug Wyllie, PoliceOne Editor in Chief

The best way to gain this information, Sprague said, is to get involved in hobby flying RC aircraft. Although this hobby “can be addictive and expensive,” it is the best way to quickly educate yourself in the UAV/UAS operations.

Far more than simply building and flying RC vehicles, Sprague advises the seriously-interested officer to join an AMA (Academy of Model Aeronautics) sanctioned RC club. Merely by being at the flying field with other club members, the hobbyist will be surrounded by experienced pilots who have a wealth of knowledge and insight into design and development of unmanned aircraft. There, the new hobbyist will be exposed to safety guidelines, aviation etiquette, and the FAA.

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