Like every industry, emerging technologies are changing the aviation profession. And operating small commercial drones appears to be one of those cutting edge careers calling to today’s students.
Drones are being used for aerial photography, search and rescue missions, and scientific explorations. And there is the ongoing discussion of using them to deliver packages to your doorstep. Culver Summer Schools & Camps Aviation Director Mary Kaye Welch said, “The field is just exploding.”
That is why the Upper School added 13 drones to the aviation program this summer. Twelve are smaller versions designed to let students get some hands-on experience and one larger model, complete with a camera, to be used by instructors and more experienced students.
With Upper School students now selecting areas to study from three Centers of Excellence (Naval, Horsemanship, and Aviation), Welch knows that not every person involved in the program will become a pilot.
There are plenty of other careers and pathways that don’t include planes.
“There are plenty of other careers and pathways that don’t include planes,” she said. “That is why it’s important to expose students to everything the aviation field has to offer.” Introducing the drones this summer will give all the students the opportunity to operate one. The program will continue to grow until it covers three summers.
The drones have four propellers. The touch and feel of the control panel is similar to the toggles on a video game controller. Students are just learning how to maneuver the drones now. Some are even able to fly their drones through an obstacle course set up the Multipurpose Building, Welch said.
Welch believes the drones will attract more girls to the aviation program. Only eight of the 82 students in Aviation are girls, she said, but those numbers should increase as they become aware of the new offerings.
Overall, the Aviation program is on strong footing. The flight school may have as many as six students making their solo flights this year. That would be highest number in several years, Welch said. More students are on the verge of being qualified to solo, she explained, but the Federal Aviation Administration requires that a person be at least 16 years old.