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Practice pays off in drone academy

Posted Date: 10/10/2018

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CHS junior practices flying a drone in the school gymnasiumStudents in drone academy at Chanute High School have different reasons for taking the class, but they’d all agree that it’s harder than it looks.

The controls were a lot more difficult than Riley Kappler expected. He thought it would be two joy sticks and “not all these other buttons.”

“I’m starting to get the hang of it and that’s what we’re practicing,” Kappler said while in the gymnasium with the rest of the class.

Teacher Jill Stevenson asked them to hover the drone and then fly it forward and back across the gym. Those managing to keep the drones aloft and at a consistent height and pace moved on to practice yawing, using the controls to fly the drone around a square, turning directions at each corner.

“If you play video games a lot it’s a little easier,” Kyler Eschen said. When turning the drone, the controls change and different buttons have to be pushed or moved to make the drone go forward and back.

Jayden Townsend flies the drone to a cone, stops it then turns it to the right and flies to the next cone.

“I’m trying to find a way to keep it hovered at one spot and not go up and down as much,” he said.

 “These ones are really hard to control,” Townsend said about the Syma X5C they were flying indoors. “They’re hard to keep level,” unlike the more expensive DJI Phantom 3 models that can handle the wind and be flown outdoors.

Stevenson’s teacher aide, Killian Church, took the class last year, and subsequently shot some footage with a drone for Kansas RV Center that they are using in their commercials. Future job potential is one thing Stevenson points out to her students.

There is more to the class than flying and more to learn about flight restrictions and regulations as the number of people and companies using drones increases.

Drone regulations are constantly changing and being updated because so many drones are being purchased and used for multiple purposes, Stevenson said. She shares news articles from around the world about how drones and their purposes.

Just last week she found an article about DroneHunter, drones that can track and capture other unauthorized drones that have entered a no-fly zone. She also told them about a new bill that passed, allowing a drone entering a no-fly zone to be shot down.

“I’m into a lot of electronics and stuff so it’s pretty interesting,” Eschen said. “People don’t know they can do more than take video.” Drones can be used for delivering things, for measuring landforms or by architects wanting to see if there is something structurally wrong with a building. 

Kappler said he really likes the drones.

“I want to be an engineer when I grow up and I want to work on everything, so I want to work on drones for a bit” while in high school, he said.

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