Flying High

Working with recent FAA regulations, Joel Roggenkamp helps to keep the skies open to commercial drone pilots.

Roggenkamp poses with one of his drone planes. Courtesy of Joel Roggenkamp. 

Until June, it was illegal to use drones commercially without an exemption from the Federal Aviation Administration. With a lengthy application, a case review waitlist, and exemptions decided on a case-by-case basis, the whole process took months. Many professionals–especially photographers and videographers–hoping to use drones’ capabilities as a revenue stream ended up with expensive equipment and an interminable wait.

Drone sales that have more than tripled in the past year, testing the abilities of an already inefficient licensing program. Recognizing this, the FAA instituted a new program, one that requires a TSA security check and a written knowledge test.

While the first prerequisite isn’t a huge hassle, drone enthusiast Joel Roggenkamp has made the second one a breeze at the Twin Cities Drone School.

“A lot of people couldn’t operate who wanted to,” says Roggenkamp. Now, with his one-day preparatory seminars for the knowledge test, beginners and experienced pilots alike can learn the most vital information.

A lifelong aviation enthusiast, Roggenkamp wanted to be an airplane pilot when he was young. In high school, he received his pilot’s license and continued to pursue flying as a hobby. Due to its cost, he soon turned to model airplane flying. Still, he relies on much of what he learned to get his pilot’s license, noting, “remote pilots are required to have much of the same air traffic control, meteorology, and operational knowledge as airplane pilots.”

The first seminar is set to run on September 24 in Lakeville. Subsequent workshops are planned in Minneapolis.

Read more and register online at