How Many Drone Pilots are Flying Without a License? DRONELIFE Minute Survey

At DRONELIFE, we’ve gathered some anecdotal evidence over the years about how many drone pilots are flying without a license.  Whenever we’ve asked drone operators that we meet in life outside of work if they have a license, we’ve found that none of the operators that we’ve run into have a Part 107.  These are local roofers, photographers, or recreational flyers who have a day job but accept commissions to take a picture of a town ballfield or soccer game once in a while.  Not only are these pilots flying without a license: we’ve found that until we mention it, they are completely unaware that such a thing exists.

Admittedly, we’re located in a small town, and the number of drone operators we’ve run across is small.  To get a better feel for the gray market in drone services, we decided to ask DRONELIFE followers to fess up in our latest anonymous survey, the DRONELIFE Minute Survey.   Read on to see just how many drone pilots are flying without a license.

There are a lot of very significant drone business surveys, and a lot of very official forecasts for the drone industry.  The DRONELIFE Minute Survey makes no claim to be either – it’s a way for DRONELIFE to share some of the prevailing buzz that comes our way from readers on a variety of subjects, and for us to track changes over time on topics that we feel would be of interest to our readers and the industry. Recent surveys included pricing in the commercial drone space and the effect of the coronavirus on business at a point in time.

We asked DRONELIFE Twitter followers a simple question.

Commercial Drone Operators: Have you ever flown without a Part 107 (or equivalent) commercially?

Respondents had two choices:

  • No way, never: 60.7%
  • Sure, what of it: 39.3%

DLMS Pie chart

As an anonymous, random question, this survey isn’t significant data (see disclaimer above.) Respondents, however, were selected from DRONELIFE followers – and we would like to believe that a DRONELIFE follower at least knows that Part 107 exists.  In addition, respondents self-identified as commercial drone operators.  If nearly 40% of that pool admits to flying without a license – how many others who don’t read drone publications are also?


CEO,, and CMO of Principle at Spalding Barker Strategies. Has enjoyed working with and around the commercial drone industry for the last 10 years.   Attendance and speaker at Industry Events such as Commercial UAV, InterGeo, Interdrone and others.   Proud father of two. Enjoys karate, Sherlock Holmes, and interesting things.  Subscribe to all things drone at DroneLife here. Email is [email protected]   Make Sure that you WhiteList us in your email to make sure you get our Newsletter.  [email protected]