40+ Free & Low-Cost Online Drone Piloting Courses for Beginners

Are you ready to pilot your first drone? We're all for it — but you may need training. Here are some of the best drone piloting courses broken down by price: free, under $50, and under $100.

Are you ready to pilot your first drone, learn about drone videography for fun or maybe work, buy your child their very first drone as a gift, or start a new hobby flying around the neighborhood? We're all for it — but it may be news to some of you that if you're going into some forms of drone piloting, you're gonna need some training.

Drone piloting FAQ

Beginning in August of 2016, the FAA implemented new regulations for drones (or small, unmanned aerial systems), including a new certification process called 'Part 107'. A  process for new drone pilots, these regulations cover most low-risk, commercial UAS flight operations.  

However, if you only wish to fly your drone recreationally, you don't really need to become a certified drone pilot. You will still need to understand and abide by standard safety guidelines which the FAA regulates, though, such as flying in the daylight, staying under 400 feet, not flying in national parks, not flying directly over people, etc. Check out Know Before You Fly for details on these, and other, guidelines.

According to UAV Coach, any drone weighing over 55 lbs. still needs to be registered with the FAA, whether it's flown commercially or recreationally.

The fun part to all this is, there's a wealth of instruction available now to learn about all things drones, and, depending upon your plans, you can probably still find free or very affordable online courses outlining the how-tos of your particular type of droning. 

While most drone schools and programs don't get too far into online drone training, you'll most likely find drone repair training within the  best online drone schools, as well as some online drone degree programs, test prep for certification testing, and a bevy of helpful how-to video courses in the best free online drone schools. 

Whether you're interested in flying commercially and want to become certified, or perhaps you just want to fly better, farther, faster, or shoot clearer video, there's surely something out there for you. 

We've gone in for as many courses available online as possible in 3 sections:

  1. Free courses
  2. Courses offered for less than $50
  3. Courses offered for less than $100

Come take a look with us at what's out there, and decide which section and courses work best for your piloting needs. Let's get to droning!

Free drone courses

CineChopper Drone University

Course: Free Search and Rescue Drone Training Course

CineChopper Drone University offers this course free of charge to help people join the growing movement to use drones for good. See the introductory video here.

Price: Free.

Instructor/s: Jay Manley. Jay Manley has created this collection of the knowledge and training  he's accumulated over his 18 years of Civil Air Patrol duty free of charge. As a ranking Lieutenant Colonel, Jay has more than 600 hours of flying and 150 actual mission hours - not to mention being a certified Incident Commander who trains other members in Search and Rescue.

Course link: Right here.

Alison

Alison offers free online education instructed by the world's top experts in their fields. They offer two online courses related to beginner drone use here:

Course: Free introduction to drones

Learn the main parts of the drone, how they're constructed, frequently used acronyms and flight terminology. 2-3  hours in duration with certification offered upon completion.

Course: How to make maps with drones

This course overs flight planning, GPS, and mapping terrain with a drone.

Price: Free, but if you find one that's not — here are some Alison promo codes

Instructor/s: Unknown.

Course link: Right here and here.

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University offers free worldwide online courses for anyone interested in learning about aviation.

Course: Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) – Key Concepts and Best Practices for New Users

This is a two-week online course covering the key elements of drones or small unmanned aircraft systems. You'll learn the basic types, what they can do, current uses and potential for the future. Safety issues related to where to fly your drone, appropriate flight planning tools to use and where to find them, an intro to Part 107, and more will be discussed.

This free course begins November 19th, 2018 and ends December 3rd, 2018. It will be offered again, however, if you miss this session, so watch this space for future courses.

Price: Free.

Instructor/s: Christian Janke, Assistant Professor and Program Chair for the Bachelor of Science in Unmanned Systems Applications at Embry Riddle Aeronautical Universities Worldwide Campus and Nicole Bier, Associate Program Chair for Masters of Science in Unmanned Systems degree.

Course link: Read about the course here. Register here. This class is also offered by Class Central and other sites like Canvas Network.

Udemy

Course: Drone Photography Basics

In this course, you'll learn 4 basic drone photography fundamentals to enhance your drone's aerial images dramatically going forward.

Price: Free. You can also find Udemy promo codes here.

Instructor/s: Umair Vanthaliwalam, whose credited drone footage has been seen on ESPN, HuffingtonPost, CBC News, CTV News and other national new broadcast stations.

Course link: Right here.

Phantom Film School

The Phantom Film School has several beginner drone courses available online, each focused on the DJI Phantom for the majority of footage and panoramas used and the aerial 3D models created. 

Some of these courses are free; others have a price. See below or visit their link to explore in detail.

Course: Phantom Film School 3: 3D models, Focus, Follow, and more

This course highlights the wisdom of 21 lecturers over 4 hours of drone flight filming and editing. 

Phantom Film School also offers the following courses:

Price: Ranges from free to $50.00. And while DJI drones are expensive, you can check here for DJI promo codes.

Instructor/s: Laurence Seberini

Course link: Right here.

Online drone courses for under $50

DARTdrones

Course: Drones for Beginners

Described by DARTdrones, arguably the best online drone school, as the 'ultimate drone class for beginners', this course includes:

  • An explanation of new FAA rules and regulations for drones
  • A tour of different drone models like hobby, prosumer, microdrones, and specialty drones
  • How to register your drone
  • Safety guidelines
  • Flight checklist
  • Market projections

Price: Currently on sale for $19.99/regularly $49.00. 

Instructor/s: Drones for Beginners was developed by a team of UAV experts including Amelia Owre, a U.S. Navy UAS Program Curriculum Developer, and Roger Hall, an FAA Ground School Instructor and Retired Firefighter.

Course link: Right here.

The Drone U

Price: $47/month for as many courses as you wish to take, including a whole section of online courses, listed below. You can also get 14 days' sneak peek for $1 here.

  • How to get FAA Airspace Authorization
  • Beginner Practice and Tips
  • Intro to Drone Thermography
  • Build a Drone
  • Advanced Aerial Videography
  • First Time Flying
  • Common FAA and UAS terms defined
  • Cell Tower Mapping
  • Mapping with Drones
  • Operating under Part 107
  • Flying over Water
  • Subject Tracking Fast-Moving Objects
  • Night Photography Using a Drone

Instructor/s: Vary with course, each approved by Drone U's expert drone pilots and Certified FAA Flight Instructors.

Course link/s: Right here.

UAS Online Ground School

Course: Drone Knowledge Test Prep

New test prep software to help applicants pass the Federal Aviation Administration Remote Pilot Certificate knowledge test.

Price: $99.99 Lifetime Access. There's also $24.95 for 90 days access, $34.95 for 6 months access, and $44.95 for 1 year. Plus, you can try a sample test here.

Instructor/s: The Drone Knowledge Test Prep was developed by an experienced FAA Certified Flight instructor, Gold Seal Flight Instructor, and Master Flight Instructor with over 7,000 hours of  flight experience, and more than 3 years of professional drone flying experience.

Course link: Right here.

Coursera

Course: Introduction to Aerial Robotics 

This course introduces the basic mechanics, geometry, planning, and control of Unmanned Aerial Robotics (UAVs), quadrotors in particular. There are some mathematics prerequisites for this course, and there are   additional courses in the robotics specialization following this one.

Price: There's an introductory 7-day Free Trial, then $39.00 per month. Financial aid is available for those who qualify. Also, please note, the website states: You can audit this course for free. When you audit a course, you can access the course materials without having your assignments graded or earning a certificate. Find Coursera promo codes here.

Instructor/s: Vijay Kumar, Nemirovsky Family Dean of Penn Engineering and Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics, School of Engineering and Applied Science.

Course link: Right here.

Skillshare

Course: Introduction to Aerial Videography Creative Direction for Drone Filming

This course teaches all the basic introductory knowledge you'll need for aerial videography, including shot selection, drone control, safety matters, and captivating camera moves, all in 11 videos for a total of 44 minutes.

Price: Starts with a free trial, then $8/month for Skillshare. You can also get 2 free months of a Premium membership with these Skillshare promo codes

Instructor/s: Wild Rabbit Productions' Aerial Cinematography Company Owner and Chief Pilot Drew Roberts and Pilot/Drone Technician Nathan Labruzza.

Course link: Right here.

Course: Unleashing your video creativity using GoPro cameras    

This is a 53-minute course by Canadian video and photography expert Greg Hung, showing students the ins and outs of air, land, and oceanic GoPro filming.  

Price: Starts with a free trial, then $8/month for Skillshare. You can also get 2 free months of a Premium membership with these Skillshare promo codes

Instructor/s: Greg Hung

Course link: Right here.

Course: DJI Phantom 3 Professional - 4k Aerial Video & Photography for beginners

Join Greg as he indulges one of the most powerful drones available for aerial work on a 44-minute adventure. Learn everything you need to know for an overview and basics of the Phantom 3 Professional drone.

Price: Starts with a free trial, then $8/month for Skillshare. You can also get 2 free months of a Premium membership with these Skillshare promo codes

Instructor/s: Greg Hung, Travel Videographer and Educator with his own Travel Videography School.

Course link: Right here.

Course: Drone Photography | Shoot Professional Photos With Any Drone

You'll learn how to shoot like a professional, optimize your camera settings, edit your photos, shoot night photography, and more. 29 videos make up nearly 2 hours of self-paced on-demand instruction video.

Price: Starts with a free trial, then $8/month for Skillshare. You can also get 2 free months of a Premium membership with these Skillshare promo codes

Instructor/s: Dale McManus, Professional Photographer/Videographer, Award Winning Youtuber, and Co-Creator of WANDR travel film company.

Course link: Right here

Udemy

This course offers 6 full hours of on-demand video instruction including everything from the basics all the way up to advanced flying and editing. Dr. Geddes promises you'll be a master!

Course: Stunning Aerial Videography and Photography Using Drones

Price: $11.99 currently, marked down from $94.99. Find Udemy promo codes here.

Instructor/s: Dr. Bruce Geddes, worldwide aerial videographer and photographer; PhD Cognitive Psychology with a specialization in how people learn.

Course link: Right here.

Course: Step by Step to Build and Fly a Racing Quadcopter

Another Udemy gem, this course introduces students with no background in aviation to each component and how to build their own radio-controlled drone. Then they will learn to fly and record videos. Two full hours of instruction are self-paced. 

Price: The course is currently $11.99, marked down from $24.99. Students can anticipate spending a little more than $250 on parts unless they already have them. Find Udemy promo codes here.

Instructor/s: Silvio A C Gollega Jr.

Course link: Right here.

Course: Become a Master Drone Pilot in 2 Weeks and Start a Business

This course offers 12 full hours of instruction teaching students how to fly a drone cinematically as well as tips on starting and managing an aerial filming business.

Price: $11,99 currently, marked down from $199.99 regular price. Find Udemy promo codes here.

Instructor/s: Umair Vanthaliwala, whose credited aerial footage has been seen on ESPN, HuffingtonPost, CBC News, CTV News and other national new broadcast stations.

Course link: Right here.

Course: Tech Explorations™ Make an Open Source Drone

Learn about drones by making one! You'll get a full 8 hours of on-demand instruction and a Certificate of Completion at the end.

Price: $11.99 currently, marked down from $99.99. Find Udemy promo codes here.

Instructor/s: Dr. Peter Dalmaris, electrical engineer and founder/Chief Tech Explorer of Sydney, Australia's Tech Explorations which offers educational courses and Bootcamps for STEM students and teachers and electronics hobbyists.

Course link: Right here.

Udemy offers several other online drone training courses far a range of prices, including:

          Instructor/s: Paul Richards, Live Streaming Expert and Chief Streaming Officer for PTZOptics.

          Instructor/s: Dionisio Gonzalez, a geophysical engineer w/experience in surveying, photography, sales & teaching

         Instructor/s: Also Dionisio Gonzalez, geophysical engineer w/surveying experience

          Instructor/s: Mike Smith, who is an educator, coach, and Department Chair of Math; he's been flying UAVs (drones)               since 2014

You can also check for Udemy promo codes here

Destin Learning

This is a self-paced course covering the basic components of drones, how they work, and how/where to get them.

Course: Quadcopter 101 - Basics of Quadcopters

Price: $20.00.

Instructor/s: Yogesh Ramakrishnan, a software engineer with a leading technology company, drone and RC airplane expert.

Course link: Right here.

Online drone courses for under $100

Udemy

Once again on Udemy, although in a slightly higher tuition bracket, comes UAS Drone FAR§107 FAA Exam Preparation, or:

Course: Test Prep for UAS Remote Pilot Drone Certification

This 2.5-hour course provides 14 lectures covering all elements of the 12 subject areas drone operators must learn, as well as a certificate of completion. Only basic math skills are required to complete this course.

Price: $59.00. Find Udemy promo codes here.

Instructor/s: Tim Trott, a public safety instructor certified by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and 107-certified drone pilot. Tim also offers a book and kindle edition on Amazon covering essentially the same content here.

Course link: Right here.

DARTdrones

Course: Online Aerial Photography Course

Another DARTdrones masterpiece, this one falls into our under $100 category — and the views we're seeing definitely look worth the price!


The Online Aerial Photography Course is a full 40-minute class covering drone angling, camera settings, ways to work in any kind of weather, and an aerial photographer's checklist.

Price: $100.00.

Instructor/s: The DARTdrones team each course is taught by either an individual or a team of UAV experts.

Course link: Right here.

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