Getting Started

Penn State Faculty, Staff, Students and Third Party Vendors

Indoor and outdoor flights on Penn State property or affiliated Penn State property and/or for Penn State affiliated activities, including but not limited research, teaching, hobby, etc., must submit a request to fly and go through the proper approval process. Please submit your request to fly at least one week in advance. Here are a few steps on how to get started.

Penn State faculty, staff and students: Review the SOP on Submitting a Request to Fly or visit our FAQ page for additional information.

Third party vendors: Review the SOP for Third Parties Submitting a Request to Fly.

Step 1: Purchase

If you have not yet purchased a drone, please send the specifications to for approval. Skip to Step 2 if you have already purchased a drone. 

Step 2: Register

Register your drone if you have not already done so. If the drone is Penn State-owned, follow the instructions on the SOP for Registering a Penn State-owned drone. Note Penn State purchased drones must be registered under the name "The Pennsylvania State University". After registering, the Penn State-owned drone must be added to the fleet of insured vehicles at Penn State. Instructions on how to do so can be found on the SOP for Insurance Requirements. 3rd parties should follow their own company rules on registering their drone and follow the Part 107 regulations around registration.

Step 3: Train

Complete the required training on Canvas. You can skip this step if you have successfully completed all online modules or if you have been grandfathered in (standardization pilots and anyone who demonstrated qualifications prior to December 2018). In addition to completing the online trianing modules in Canvas, Penn State employees and students will need to demonstrate their qualifications with one of our standardized pilots. Review the SOP on Training and Qualification Requirements for additional information. 

Step 4: Submit a Drone Request to Fly

All personnel, including faculty, staff, students and third parties (contractors) wishing to operate drones on Penn State property, Penn State-affiliated property, or as part of a Penn State activity must go through the proper channels to request approval. Drone operations are not permitted until approval is granted by the central Drone Operations Team within the Office for Research Protections. Please submit your request to fly at least one week in advance.

Submit a request to fly. There will be a number of items that will be needed as part of your submission (see list below). Please do not email these items, rather, upload them into our Drones RSS system as part of your request to fly. 

  • Copy of Part 107 Certificate (applies to PSU & 3rd parties)
  • Copy of Drone Registration Card (applies to PSU & 3rd parties). Reference: SOP for Registering a Penn State-owned Drone
  • USAIG UAV Vehicle Questionnaire if the vehicle has not yet been added to Penn State's fleet of insured (applies to PSU only) 
  • Approval to Use Site/Location (applies to PSU & 3rd parties)
  • Letter from department verifying flight mission falls within employment responsibilities (applies to PSU students who are flying for purposes that fall within employment responsibilities)
  • PSU employee must be onsite to supervise (applies to PSU students flying for research or education purposes)
  • Evidence of Insurance (3rd parties only). Reference: Insurance Requirements
  • Unit Sponsor Letter (3rd parties only; email is sufficient)
  • Film Agreement (3rd parties only - required if taking photos or videos)
  • Indemnification Agreement (3rd parties only - required if NOT taking photos or videos)