AOPA Accepting Drone Pilots As Members

The organization has created membership options for drone pilots.


Frederick, Md (KM). If you’re a drone pilot, you can now join the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. The organization based in Frederick announced this week that it has created membership options for those who fly unmanned aircraft.

“We view them as a part of our overall community, whether it’s manned or unmanned,” says Kat Swain, the Senior Director of Unmanned Aerial Systems for AOPA. “We’re offering membership options for drone pilots out there really is a way, an ongoing effort, to unite the two communities.”

In a statement, the AOPA says it’s seen many changes in aviation since it was founded in 1939, and the advent of drones is no different. The organization, which advocates for general aviation, says the FAA estimates there will ┬ábe 1.3-million pilots certified to operate drones under 14 CFR by 2020.

Swain says there are many advantages for drone pilots who join AOPA. “They also receive benefits in news and media, advocacy, training and safety, {and} other products like insurance and legal protection services to protect their new remote certificate,” she says.

Drone pilots who join AOPA will pay the same dues as airplane and helicopter pilots, Swain says. “We have three tiers of membership and our regular membership is exactly same as manned. And then they have other options to add on legal services protection,” she says.

Swain also says by joining AOPA, drone pilots can help with safety issues in the sky and on the ground. “We think that the safe integration of drones is vital for the both manned and the remote pilot community, with safety being a top priority for both of them,” she says. “And we think that we’re stronger together as a united community with both the manned and and unmanned pilots both looking for the same thing in an organization.”

She estimates that there are 650,000 registered drones in the United States.

The FAA created a drone registration system this year, and began issuing commercial drone pilot licenses in August.


By Kevin McManus