TRUST certification builds kids’ interest in aviation safety

How do we inspire and spark the imaginations of the next generation of professionals who will drive innovation and prepare the aviation and aerospace industries for the challenges of the 21st century?

I recently received a small drone as a birthday gift, and my son’s excitement to use it caught my attention. As a responsible adult, a loving father and a former Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) employee, I knew I couldn’t let my 7-year-old fly the drone on his own. However, his enthusiasm brought back memories of my childhood, such as my excitement about riding a bicycle safety course held by our local police department. Upon completing the course, I received a license plate for my bicycle and learned the importance of wearing my helmet. It also reminded me of the time I got to crawl through the simulated burning building course set up by our local fire department. My reward for that accomplishment was a plastic firefighter hat. I have never forgotten the lifesaving stop, drop and roll training from that experience.

When I started searching for drone guidance for my son, I discovered The Recreational UAS Safety Test (TRUST) FAA certification, a simple tool for helping kids develop a passion for aviation safety. Taking the TRUST test with my children sparked their excitement for aviation and taught them important safety and regulatory information in a simple format. Importantly, TRUST fulfills the legal requirement that all recreational drone flyers pass an aeronautical knowledge and safety test and provide proof of passage if asked by law enforcement or FAA personnel.

Here are three aspects of the TRUST process that may spark young people’s interest in aerospace and aviation safety:

Recreational flying requirements

One of the best parts of the TRUST certification process is the accessibility. The training is free and offered online through 17 FAA-approved test administrators. The courses interactively instruct students about important recreational flying requirements, including the difference between recreational and commercial use, maintaining a visual line of sight of the drone during flight, flying at or below 400 feet and learning how to register a drone. 

Official FAA certificate

This may be the most rewarding part. The excitement of receiving an official completion certificate further emphasizes the importance of flying safely and responsibly. Just as the police and fire departments have taught generations of young people important safety practices through “official” certification, the TRUST certification process teaches aviation safety practices while inspiring young people with an official FAA certificate.

Safety tips

This may be the most unique part of aviation in the 21st century. In the past, practicing aviation safety was mostly limited to airports. However, with the advancement and availability of drone technology, aviation safety can be practiced in your own backyard. This opportunity to practice will quickly teach kids that objects in the air are closer than they appear.  

To learn more about TRUST, visit the FAA’s webpage.

Kyle Dorf is an aviation civil designer for Hanson. He can be reached at