Drone accessibility expands

Lane’s aviation program offers credit course in unmanned aerial system training

Photo courtesy of Tyler Gordon
Quadcopter drones are a common and accessible tool in the world of unmanned aerial systems.

Personalized aerial flight has been inaccessible for most of the public for some time now. However, the invention of drone technology unlocks the experience of controlled flight for the general populous.

Several of these drones are expensive and complicated in their design making maintaining and flying them difficult. Now however, Lane will be offering a drone training program as a section of the Aviation Program this summer term.

There are a lot of different drones out there, ranging from multi-rotor to fixed-wing and even hybrid-winged crafts that can do the job of fixed-wing and copter drones at the same time.

Lane has offered drone training before as a continuing education opportunity however a new credit course has become available. Instruction for this course will be focused around the more introductory drone models, the multi-rotor or “Quad” copter. These are the most accessible, intuitive and cheapest model that can be bought for around $500 by civilians.

Brandon Wynn is one of Lane’s Unmanned Aerial System Operator and Flight instructors. UAS  means virtually any aircraft that can be flown on it’s its own computer system or via remote control.

“The focus of this class is more for general drone training and maintenance and the equipment will be provided by the school,” Wynn said. “We’re going to be doing most of the hands on training with quad copters because they are the most common and the easiest to use.”

Wynn also explained that the quad copters are the best kind of drone to use for commercial purposes because of their maneuverability while flying, and simplicity in controlling them. Real estate photography and live sports coverage are just a few of the commercial uses for these types of UAS.

“Fixed-wing crafts are used for more specific purposes like mapping large areas of land or if you want you want to survey something from afar. These are more expensive and harder to use,” Wynn said.

The aviation team already has three UAS simulators, making the initial training for drones less of a liability and also still gives students a virtual hands on experience with flying a drone. Wynn explained that the program will be tailored to the individual needs of each student and what it is that they want to get out of the program.

So far 30 to 40 students have shown interest. Wynn and fellow Lane UAS flight instructor Sean Parrish are hopeful even more students will be intrigued by the program after the first summer.

The aviation program has asked the school for one time funding to purchase some of the UAS and other drone related equipment the program will need. However Wynn has a back up plan if the school can not afford to fund the program.

“We’re hoping to get the grant so that we can buy 3 three quadcopters but if not it won’t be the end of the world. We will still be able to purchase at least one UAS with tuition from students alone,” Wynn said.

The general drone training and maintenance course is a three credit class. It will be offered from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Lane Aviation Academy training center near the Eugene airport.