Unmanned Aircraft System (Drone) Remote Pilot Open Category A1/A3

A few weeks ago, I was about to buy a DJI Mini 2 drone to take some aerial shots. However, I had to postpone the purchase as I was informed that due to the new European regulations in force in 2021, operating camera drones is only allowed for registered drone pilots with the proper license. In this case, an Open A1 license is required.

In order to register myself at the RDW (the Dutch Department of Motor Vehicles) as an Open A1 drone pilot, I need to pass an online theory exam first. The exam can be taken at one of the recognized drone flight schools. As of July 2021, there are 8 of them, each offering a course costing around €100 for the Open A1/A3 categories. To the best of my knowledge, the courses and the exam are only available in Dutch at the moment.

After comparing the prices, I decided to go for the OmniDrones academy, the cheapest of them all at €50. The course is provided through a self-paced online learning environment.

The content of the course is rather minimal, yet adequate for the exam. There are many terms and abbreviations in the course materials that are not sufficiently described, but some Google searches will do just fine. I saw the demo of the more expensive courses and they seemed to be of better quality, but I personally don’t think they’re really worth the extra price.

The unlimited practice exam is a very useful feature, as most, if not all, of the real exam questions are almost identical to the practice exam questions. I took the practice exam twice before the real exam, and I estimated that I’ve seen almost 50% of the real exam questions in the practice exams already. I passed the exam with relative ease, scoring 75% and 90% during practice, and 97.5% on the real exam. (As the passing requirement is only 75%, I bet one can pass the exam by simply taking the practice exam 4-5 times and review the correct answers without studying all the materials if they’re short of time.)

I received an email soon afterwards, with a link to register myself as an unmanned aerial vehicle pilot by the RDW. After paying another €10, I received the certificate with my registration number therein, which is valid for 5 years, after which a reexamination is required.

Getting the license for free

I have since heard reports that people managed to get the license for free by taking the online course and exam provided by the Directorate of Civil Aviation of Luxembourg and EUROCONTROL. It is available in English, French, and Luxembourgish at https://trainingzone.eurocontrol.int/ilp/pages/coursedescription.jsf?courseId=9719685&catalogId=8264768. I haven’t tried it myself, but I don’t see why it should not work given that the license should be valid in the whole EU even when issued by the Luxembourg authority.

My First Golf Club Sets

After getting my golf permit, I asked my instructor to pick a golf club set that is suitable for me. As I am a beginner with a relatively slow swing, he recommended that I get the clubs with graphite shafts and thicker toplines, which are supposedly more forgiving.

He believes the Callaway Strata full set is good for me. The set is made for beginners and is of a decent quality, yet still very affordable. Unfortunately, the set is out-of-stock virtually everywhere and it might take a while for it to be back in stock.

For that reason, I decided to get the Inesis 100 half-set from Decathlon. It is also targeted for beginners and seems to have good reviews. Several golf pros also recommends it for beginners who don’t want to spend a fortune on their first clubs.

Inesis 100 Golf Set

The set doesn’t come with a bag, but I have a lightweight Sunday bag from Callaway I picked up earlier to store the clubs. Given its size and weight, I think it suits these clubs very well—perfect for a weekly trip the driving range.

While browsing the internet a few days later, I found a set from Wilson that has similar characteristics to the Strata set recommended by the instructor. I love the look of it, so I decided to get one. I might still get the Strata later when it’s back in stock if I like the clubs better.

Wilson Ultra XD for Men

With these sets, I’m ready to start practicing my swings at the driving range and eventually choose the clubs I like better. I plan to use the rest as backups or to lend to my friends who don’t own one when we’re playing together.

New€575.52club membership, balls, a set of clubs, and (training) accessories
Previously€907.22lessons, books, balls, a half-set, clothing, and (training) accessories
Spending up to 12 May 2021

Getting into Golf

Passed the theory exam! 🙂

Back in May 2018, I got my first taste of golf at a par 3 course in Kamerik with my colleagues. I was (perhaps unsurprisingly) not very good at it, but I did enjoy the whole experience nonetheless.

Since then, I’ve been thinking to take some lessons to somewhat get better at it, but never actually had the time to do it.

Just two years later, the Covid-19 pandemic happened. The government-mandated lockdowns meant that the gyms were closed indefinitely, until further notice. Outdoor sporting activities did, however, continue to be allowed, which somehow brought my mind back to golf. (I later discovered that many people actually have the same idea; a lot of people were picking up golf during the lockdowns!)

A few Google searches later, I found out that there is actually a golf course not too far away from my home. It takes only about 10 minutes to get there by bike (or 5 minutes by car) and is well connected to the public transport system. They also offer various lessons for aspiring golfers, which was exactly what I was looking for.

After taking about 6-hour worth of instructions and a little bit of self-study, I passed my golf theory exam and fulfilled the requirements to get the NGF-Golfbaanpermissie, a permit that gives me access the the Golf.nl platform and various golf courses in the country, and allows me to start doing qualifying rounds to get my handicap.

Studying for the Theory Exam

Here in the Netherlands, passing a theory exam is a requirement to start playing golf somewhat seriously. The exam makes sure that you know enough of the golf’s basic regulations and etiquettes.

NGF, the Dutch golf federation, provides various free (and paid, if you prefer to have them in printed forms) resources for studying for the exam on the Golf.nl website. These resources are tailored for beginners, and contain all you need to know to be able to pass the exam.

While the exam itself is available in English (as well as German), the study resources are unfortunately only available in Dutch as of 2021. Learning from English resources published by English-speaking countries like the UK or the US is a possibility—the rules and etiquettes of golf are the same internationally, but you might end up learning a lot of other topics that might never be asked on the exam.

(If you know Dutch at an A2-level or higher, I would recommend learning and doing the exam in Dutch to avoid all the hassles. If you’re unsure whether or not your Dutch is good enough, you can test yourself by doing the practice exams on the Golf.nl website.)

The biggest problem I encountered when preparing myself for the exam is that a lot of online resources contained outdated information. The golf rules are updated periodically and so is the exam. You might get a lot of the questions about regulations wrong if you studied the old rules! Beware that some websites actually still contain outdated information despite claiming that they have updated their articles to conform to the latest version of the regulations.

The exam itself was (fortunately) much easier than I expected. If you’ve done the practice exams available at the Golf.nl website and managed to pass them at least 2-3 times, I’m sure you won’t have any difficulties passing the actual exam.

What’s Next?

Doing a qualifying round and getting a handicap of 54 or lower is my next goal, after procuring all the necessary equipments. The instructor at the course has helped me choose a golf set suitable for me, given what he observed during the lessons. He recommended me a Strata full-set for men with graphite shafts.

Total€907.22lessons, books, balls, a half-set, clothing, and (training) accessories
Spending up to 2 May 2021

Hello world!

It’s 2021 and with all these COVID lockdowns still going strong, I’ve decided to start blogging again. It’s been a long while since I last did this and my writing skills are at their all-time lows, so I expect this to be somewhat challenging. I will, however, try to write posts semi-regularly and publish them without waiting for them to be “perfect”. If I manage to publish at least 35 posts by the end of this year, I will consider it a success.

If I have the time as well as the motivation, I will at some point also import the old posts from my old blogs. They are safely preserved in my archive, but getting rid of all the spams from all those years of neglect will take me some time.

Wish me luck! 😉