HCC Instructor/Students Become Licensed UAV Pilots
HCC Instructor/Students Become Licensed UAV (Drone) Pilots
Highland Community College Western Center students Blane Rokey and Travis Rokey, and their instructor, Ted Hinton, all passed the FAA Remote Pilot Airman Certificate Examination and have been issued their Temporary Airmen Certificates, allowing them to lawfully act as Remote Pilots in Charge in commercial Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) operations. The students are taking an Arial Systems Management class as part of the Precision Agriculture curriculum that is offered at the HCC Western Center in Baileyville.
“We’ve been preparing for the examination for a while now,” said Ted Hinton, the Precision Ag instructor at Baileyville. “While we have six students in the class, only two of them opted to take the test, which I believe is primarily because it costs $150 to take the test.” Hinton went on, “while everyone prepares for the exam as if they are taking it, only those who feel that it will benefit them enough to justify the expense do so, as nobody is forced to take the exam.” HCC has a number of students who enjoy operating the UAVs, or “drones”, as many people call them. Those who operate them in educational or recreational activities are not required to have licenses; however HCC believes that it demonstrates its intent to conduct a responsible UAV operator program by having an instructor who is commercially licensed.
Some of the HCC students plan to operate UAVs commercially and thus pursued the licensing as part of their instruction at Baileyville. They may legally operate “for hire” in the United States now, as long as they follow all other rules and regulations regarding commercial UAV operation. Some speculate that UAVs may have an $80 billion USD impact on the agricultural economy in the future. UAVs are used for remotely observing crops, equipment, and livestock. The HCC Precision Ag program primarily focuses on UAV use in grain production.
Any question about the program may be directed to Cara Baker, Director at the HCC Western Center at 785-336-2326. You can also go online to the HCC website at www.highlandcc.edu to learn more.