Drone class

PARTICIPANTS OF A drone operations course at Northeast Community College watch Penny Korth (second from left) use a remote control to fly a drone over the institution’s Norfolk campus recently. The course, taught by Brian Anderson, Northeast instructor and certified drone pilot (third from right), provided a deeper understanding of applicable regulations, flight maneuvers, missions planning and safe operation of drones in controlled airspace.

Students in a class at Northeast Community College recently had the opportunity to soar to new heights. 

One of the students, Craig Korth, said the drone course he enrolled in was an eye-opening experience as to what it takes to fly drones commercially.

“The class turned out to be more in-depth than what I was expecting,” Korth said. “There are significantly more rules and regulations that I would not have been aware of or even thought of if it would not have been for taking this class.”

Korth, who works with Real Estate Solutions Team, took the class with the intention of learning the rules and regulations of operating a drone, or an unmanned aviation system (UAS), in marketing real estate property the company is selling, according to a college media release.

Drones are becoming a vital part of the business world. Cameras on the relatively small flying robots are capturing still images, video and even 360-degree panoramas of the earth below. The UAS also may be used to inspect buildings and communication and utility towers, inspect for damage to areas and structures in hard-to-reach places, fly over disaster location sites and conduct mapping, among others.

Korth, and his wife, Penny, who also took the class, have been able to use a drone on their farm.

“Whether that be checking fences or counting cows in the pasture, the options are endless.”

The statistics tell the story of their popularity. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reports more than 1.5 million drones have been registered through the agency, with most being used for recreational purposes while approximately 400,000 are used for commercial use. More than 171,000 remote pilots have been certified.

Brian Anderson, media arts and broadcasting instructor at Northeast Community College, said it is important to note that the commercial use of drones is regulated.

“If you fly a drone in the United States, it’s your responsibility as a pilot to understand and abide by the rules, especially if you’re going to be flying it for commercial ventures,” Anderson said. “If you make money off how you use your drone, such as selling photos you take with it, you have to be certified and know the rules of the air.”

A drone can range in size from less than a half-pound that can sit in the palm of one’s hand to super-sized drones that may be fixed-wing and as large as a bus. Northeast has a fleet of drones made by DJI that are durable with powerful motors, a GPS that locks on to 16 different satellites and cameras.

Anderson, an FAA-certified drone pilot, led the two-day drone operations course for area businesspersons on the Northeast campus in Norfolk. It provided students a deeper understanding of applicable regulations, flight maneuvers, missions planning and safe operation of drones in controlled airspace.

The course also delivered a better understanding of the rules of flying a UAS as established by the FAA. Anderson said the course was designed for those who want to fly drones for commercial purposes, but it also included useful rules and information for the drone hobbyist.

“It helped participants understand the proper protocol and procedures for flying various drone missions through hands-on flight training. Ultimately, it prepares these students for the successful completion of the FAA Part 107 UAS Remote Pilot certification process,” he said.

Korth said the class demonstrated the different air classifications and what elevations an operator can and cannot fly a drone.

Anderson also has created a drone operations manual that includes protocols on what an individual needs to take care of before a UAS is launched. The manual includes logs and procedures, as well as information on flight information and what do if something goes wrong.

The occupation of certified drone pilot is becoming lucrative, according to the release. The Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems reports that 100,000 licensed drone pilot jobs will be available by 2025, with strong income potential depending on the project.

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