DartDrones offers ‘Santa Certified’ flight training for new drone owners

A DartDrones instructor leads a class in drone safety.
A DartDrones instructor leads a class in drone safety.

If you’re planning to buy someone a remote-controlled aircraft as a Christmas gift, Abby Speicher hopes you’ll spend a little extra and buy some lessons, too.

Speicher is founder of Woburn-based DartDrones, one of the few companies that offer flight training for drone pilots. Her company’s “Santa Certified” program is offering lessons to new drone owners in 20 US cities, including Boston.

Santa Certified doesn’t actually teach people how to fly, but when and where. It’s a two-hour indoor course covering the Federal Aviation Administration’s “rules of the road” for recreational drone use. And plenty of people need to learn the rules; the federal government has predicted that Americans will buy a million drones as holiday gifts this year.

“The FAA thinks of drones as airplanes and people need to be aware of the aviation laws,” Speicher said.  

For instance, recreational drones are not to be flown higher than 400 feet and always within sight of the pilot; they must stay at least five miles from airports, and not come near power stations, prisons, government offices, or other sensitive sites; they shouldn’t be flown over people or moving vehicles; and, of course, they’re not to be operated under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

The DartDrones course covers all this and more. Each course will be taught by a person who is licensed to fly full-sized aircraft – either fixed-wing planes or helicopters. DartDrones has a nationwide faculty of 25 pilots. When they’re not running the Santa Certified program, they’ll be providing instruction to people hoping to get permission from the FAA to fly drones for commercial uses like aerial photography.

The Santa Certified course costs $79, but customers who enter the coupon code “SantaCertified25”  will pay just $54. Classes in the Boston area will be held Jan. 2, 16, and 30.

Hiawatha Bray is a technology reporter for the Boston Globe. E-mail him at [email protected].
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