Norwich will offer summer course on using and flying drones

Drones have become the plaything of techies, an airborne video tool and a vital military component in combat and the war on terrorism.

So a Norwich professor has come up with the idea of bringing a summer course to campus help students learn about drones. This coming June, Norwich University will be offering a course on how to operate and learn the regulations to fly a commercial drone, according to Prof. Rosemarie Pelletier.

“The idea came about while I was talking to a colleague of mine, trying to combine public relations with technology. We concluded with starting this course,” said Pelletier. The three-day course will be held from June 13-15 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. “If you want to stay on campus while taking this course the cost will be $1,500 dollars, but if you live close by the course will be offered for $1,250 dollars. All meals will be covered for the three days,” Pelletier said. The best part? You get to keep the drone you practiced with.

The course is both for current students at Norwich University and for the general public, due to the wide demand and interest in the use of drones. “The course will be offered to 20 students who are current students or just the regular public,” Pelletier said, “All participants in this course must be eighteen-years-old or older.”

The course will follow all Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requirements for flying a commercial drone, which state.  “You cannot fly within five miles of an airport without notifying the airport itself … The aircraft itself must weigh less than 55 pounds including any attachments such a camera.” The FAA also states that if you are using your drone for business, you will need to have a Class G license and cannot fly within 400 feet of an airport and cannot fly over people or other moving vehicles.

The course will prepare participants to take the Commercial Drone License exam. The course does not guarantee you a license to fly a drone but will however prepare you for the exam to receive your license, according to Pelletier.

 Pelletier said students can take the exam for their drone license at the Burlington airport after they take the course. “All you have to do is sign up for the exam when it is offered and go up and take it.”

 “The big cause for this course and why we are offering it is because drones are becoming a big part of the world,” Pelletier said. There have been many issues with people using drones and invading people’s personal space and also many court cases involving drones. “Another reason for the course was because recently there was a case study done on drones, and also this case study will be part of residency week so why not do a course as well during that time frame,” Pelletier explained.

“This would be a great course for emergency response teams to come in and learn how to operate a drone,” Pelletier said. If we had a drone launched when the(Amtrak) train crashed last year we could have had eyes on the situation faster than the actual response team could be there.

Pelletier said the restrictions and rules on drones are varied: “If you are a drone hobbyist you would not fly into the restricted airspace, but if you want to fly them commercially for business and say get an aerial view of a property you would fly in the restricted airspace, so a license is required … In order to operate drones it is always a great idea to be licensed.”

The course will start from scratch: “We assume you never touched a drone and are looking for more information,” Pelletier said.  The course includes a drone equipped with a camera, and each student will use their laptop to control the drone. According to Pelletier, they are looking at using one course room for the teaching portion; then they will go down to the ballfields by the Dog River and practice flying the drones.

The drones that will be used during the course will be strictly commercial drones equipped with cameras. At the end of the three-day course, individuals will not only leave with knowledge, but also the drone used during the course.

For information on the Drone Course:



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