Drone camp gives students head start on future of flying

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The flight academy at Wooddale High School allows students in Memphis to earn their pilot’s licenses in high school.

One of the reasons the program is so successful is because of the support from FedEx and the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals.

This summer, OBAP and its partners offered a new aviation camp.

These aviation students learn how to operate small unmanned aircraft systems, or drones.

"Obviously drones are going to be a multibillion-dollar industry over the next ten years,” said Fly Robotics’ Archie Stafford, who developed the program for the camp.

OBAP, Fly Robotics and Model Aeronautics sponsored the camp for students looking for careers in aviation.

"The goal of OBAP has always been how to develop that cradle-to-career pipeline for that next generation of pilots,” Capt. Albert Glenn said.

This is the first time this camp was held in Memphis. OBAP and Fly Robotics are working to make sure this isn’t the last.

The camp is perfect for students who already have some aviation experience.

"I have a few drones myself, I fly them regularly, and it's more and more fun,” Daniel Flint said.

“I just think I could learn a little more, so that's why I came to this camp.”

The camp also gives these young aviators more options about career paths.

“Those who have an interest in flying can get a hands-on feel with a model, and those interested in building get an opportunity to help build and see what makes it work and how it works," Capt. Glenn said.

“They're all going to be able to fly,” Stafford said.

“We're going to go over and show them how autopilots work, teach them some different scenario-based training that they can actually go out and figure out how they would possibly use these in careers going forward."

Not only does Flint already fly drones, but he also flies a Cessna.

“I want to be a pilot. I do flight training. I fly the 172, and I want to give back to my community."

Senior Eddena Ceruti plans to join the military.

She is especially interested in drones because she wants to work on planes rather than fly them.

"I figured that would be much safer than actually flying in a manned air vehicle, and I could still do a great job, and I could still serve my country,” Ceruti said.

Stafford said drones are the future of flying.

They are revolutionizing industries such as agriculture and real estate, and these young Memphians are ahead of the learning curve.