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Tyler summer camp teaches students to pilot, program drones

June 18, 2018
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In a Wednesday June 6, 2018 photo, instructor Tamika Hamlett helps John Jordan, 9, fly his drone through an obstacle course during Drone Adventures, a summer camp held at Tyler Junior College in Tyler, Texas. Drone Adventures will be held again from July 16-20. (Sarah A. Miller/Tyler Morning Telegraph via AP)

TYLER, Texas (AP) — Up, up and away! One Tyler Junior College summer camp is teaching students to fly. Drones, that is.

The faces of seven little campers are set in stone as they concentrate. Their tablet’s Bluetooth connects to a small drone and the whir of propellers tells them they are ready to go.

The drone lifts straight into the air, coming to a stop at eye level in front of the campers. They take a deep breath and begin to walk their drone through a course, dipping, dodging and diving around various obstacles.

The campers spent about an hour in a classroom programming tricks into their drones before moving into a gym to take flight, the Tyler Morning Telegraph reported .

“Watch this!” they yelled as the drone does a sudden flip. They want to try a backflip next, so they sit down and find the right codes to pull off the maneuver.

Instructor Tamika Hamlett said the camp will teach the young pilots how to program their drones, how to safely have fun with them, and the laws and regulations in place, in addition to the history of the devices.

The campers are learning a lot, even if they don’t want to admit it.

“I’m just here to fly a drone and have fun,” Sam Parker, 8, said before going through the preparation procedures he has learned throughout the week.

Parker said he chose Drone Adventures because it sounded more fun than doing Frozen Dance Camp with his little sister. Raj Kumar, 7, agreed.

“This is fantastic,” Raj said. “I have a lot of drones, so I know they’re cool, but mine can’t do a flip.”

Hamlett said the college uses technology from Black Rocket in all of its tech-oriented summer camps.

So far, the first year of the camp has been a success. Raj and Sam did lament there was no nap time, but otherwise said the experience had been fantastic.

TJC is offering more than 60 summer camps this year, with another drone camp scheduled July 16-20.

Raj said he’s looking forward to taking a Minecraft Camp next. Sam wants to do Space Camp.

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Information from: Tyler Morning Telegraph, http://www.tylerpaper.com

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