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Florence students can learn to fly drones

January 12, 2019
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Chris Williams, the director for partnership development for iFly, talks about the opportunities the remote pilot's license will provide for Florence One Schools students.

FLORENCE, S.C. – Florence One Schools will begin a drone-pilot-certification program in all three district high schools for the spring semester of the 2018-19 school year.

The 16-week program iFly will be embedded in an engineering class at West Florence and South Florence high schools and a coding class at Wilson High School.

During an announcement on Thursday, Florence One Schools STEM director Chris Rogers said the program will provide the students with more work opportunities, as well as open doors to them while in college.

“It’s just an excellent opportunity for our students,” Rogers said.

One day each week, students will learn about drone piloting during their coding or engineering class.

According to a media advisory from Florence One Schools almost 60 students will be able to take the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) pilot examination for an unmaned aircraft to receive their FAA remote pilot license.

Chris Williams, the director of partnership development for iFly, said the course will provide students will learn industry specific information behind the drone industry that will prepare them for the exam. After finishing the exam, the program will provide them with internship opportunities, Williams said.

“That is giving those students another opportunity to explore a career path they might be interested in,” Williams said. “What we want you guys to know is that it doesn’t stop with certification. That is just the start of it. We are putting them on the platform to get that opportunity.”

During the presentation, Rogers said the drone industry is expected to grow drastically, creating jobs for pilots, mechanics and engineers.

Local businesspeople came to the announcement to talk about how drones are being used currently in industries within the Florence Area.

Jean Leatherman, owner of ERA Leatherman Realty, said her company uses the drones to survey large spaces of land and check for heavy forestation areas and ponds.

Mindy Taylor, who works with Duke Energy, said the company has used drones to help attach light lines after a natural disaster.

Wilson High School senior Nikolas Ocampo plans to pursue a career in the Air Force after graduating from high school. He said he thinks the program can help him with his future career in the Air Force.

“I’m just excited to get my pilot license,” Ocampo said. “A lot of people in this area don’t have this opportunity.”

The program is being offered through AI Nautics UAV Academy and STEM U LLC.

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