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Kickstart to Careers: Drone Pilot

Tioga High’s drone class prepares students to get FAA remote pilot’s license at age 16
Published: Jan. 19, 2021 at 4:49 PM CST
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TIOGA, La. (KALB) - All this week, Rachael Penton and photojournalist Ben Gauthier are spotlighting ways high school students can “Kickstart their Careers”.

According to a study by Research and Markets, the global drone service market is projected to grow by more than 50 percent in the next 8 years. While anyone can fly a drone, if you want to fly a drone to make money, you’ve got to have a special license from the Federal Aviation Administration. ‘The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International’ projects there will be more than 100,000 new jobs in the drone industry by 2025.

The drone class at Tioga High School starts with something called “droga”- that’s short for drone yogas.

“We’re duplicating the movements with our own bodies so that when we’re thinking about it we know what we’re actually doing,” said student Dominic Pelto.

Instructor Chuck Perkins is using muscle memory to teach his students the various moves they’ll need to know when they take their part 107 FAA remote pilot’s license tests.

“A potential employer would see a resume come in and say well I see you have a drone license. Who knows what possibilities would open up because they see that they’re so trainable because they see they’ve got that,” said Perkins.

Students fly drones in preparation for the FAA part 107 remote pilot's license test.
Students fly drones in preparation for the FAA part 107 remote pilot's license test.(KALB)

This is just more one more class available to Tioga High students that will help them get a jumpstart on a career before they even finish high school.

“All of the opportunities, they’re really limitless. You can fly drones in the military. You can transport cargo. You can photograph. You can take videos. All sorts of things,” added Pelto.

Perkins’ first course is designed to teach the students everything they need to know to pass the remote pilot’s license test once they’ve turned 16. A second course teaches students how to design and build their own drone using 3D modeling software.

“Looking at someone who actually has a license whose been able to go through that kind of training, even in high school, I think that’s showing the level of employee that I’m fixing to get,” added Perkins.

Connor Keady is a senior preparing to take his drone test. He’s learned to read flight maps, studied weather theory and aerodynamics, and learned FAA laws.

“I can go to try to fly for some realtors or do pictures of like houses and buildings and stuff,” said Keady.

This is only the second school year the drone courses have been offered, but this semester alone Perkins says he has 13 students preparing to take the test.

“If I wanted to go that route it would really help me out,” added Pelto.

Goldman Sachs estimates U.S. Consumers have spent $17 billion in drones over the last four years and another $13 billion from commercial and civil industries.

Tioga High School is hosting an open house on Thursday from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Current students will be able to learn more about the programs offered and plan their schedules. Prospective students interested in open enrollment can visit as well. The school is also inviting the public out to see what the students are working on.

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