Foundations of UAS


Course Description

This block focuses on the basics of UAS. This course is designed for students to gain knowledge of the history of UAS, how they are used now and a basic overview of the main components in a UA System.

This portion of the course will typically provide 90 total student contact hours in a lecture environment.

At the end of each chapter of the book, there are a series of questions that can be used for written assignments.

No labs are included in this curriculum package as I do not expect every school to have the same equipment available. I do encourage individual schools or educators to introduce lab components as time and equipment allows. For example, when speaking about two stroke and four stroke engines, if an engine is available walk your students through the power cycle of that engine. Partially disassemble the engine to show the inner workings, etc.

Learning Outcomes

  • Understand basic principles of flight
  • Understand and be able to define basic flight terminology
  • Understand and identify aerodynamic principles including Bernoulli’s principle and newton’s Third Law of Motion
  • Define UAS
  • Describe the origins of unmanned flight
  • Understand the progression from past to present of Unmanned Aerial Systems
  • Understand how speed, size, weight, altitude and duration of flight relate to classification of system
  • Understand how different classifications increase or decrease the “maintenance footprint”
  • Understand different classification systems of UAS
  • Describe and define the basic components of an unmanned aircraft system
  • Identify human performance challenges with unmanned systems
  • Identify functions and responsibilities of common crew positions
  • Identify common payloads and understand their characteristics
  • Identify the type of sensor used by looking at the end product
  • Understand why different payloads are used for different missions
  • Identify advantages and disadvantages of common payloads
  • Define basic payload terminology
  • Develop a basic understanding of wave propagation
  • Identify different antennas and their properties
  • Identify different layers of our atmosphere and understand how the different layers affect radio waves
  • Understand electromagnetic interference and its impact on radio wave propagation
  • Understand the basics of antenna radiation
  • Identify the classes of most common antennae
  • Understand antenna safety
  • Understand and identify Risk
  • Identify Hazards
  • Perform Risk Assessment.
  • Understand the design process
  • Identify common airframe designs
  • Identify common power-plants used in UAS
  • Identify navigation subsystems.
  • Understand how these systems interact to control the Air Vehicle.
  • Understand the purpose of DAA systems
  • Identify characteristics of each stage of the OODA cycle
  • Define sensor types used in DAA systems
  • Basic Skill Requirements


    Zackary Nicklin
    Zackary Nicklin joined the US Army in 2003. He began his career as an Intelligence and Electronic Warfare Maintainer/Integrator and moved into the UAS space in 2005. His career has involved fielding and maintaining state of the art intelligence collection and dissemination systems, both airborne and ground based.

    Zack is currently the primary UAS instructor across Northland Community and Technical College’s UAS programs. He holds numerous industry recognized certifications along with three Associate degrees, a Bachelor’s in Applied Engineering and he is currently completing a Master’s degree in Unmanned Systems at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

    1 thought on “Foundations of UAS”

    1. Zack, this is very good information for the UAS general program – particularly for fixed wing remote aircraft. Although we don’t have such aircraft in our fleet (yet) I now know where to look to learn some of the fundamentals.

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