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Drone flying lessons take off at WNCC

Drones are no longer something in science fiction films, as evidenced by the Fun with Drones class sponsored by Western Nebraska Community College Business and Community Education. recently. The Fun with Drones class took place over two separate evenings.

There was a range of experience in the class — from people who have started a collection of drones to people who wanted to learn how to control it.

“Go fly, have fun, enjoy it,” participant in the class Jonathan Anderson said.

Anderson also has a Facebook page dedicated to drones.

Over the past month he has been learning all he can about the topic and is in the process of building his own quadcopter.

His dad got him a VR drone for Christmas. Shortly after that, he told his dad he wanted to get into racing drones.

“We sat down and started searching YouTube, of all places,” Anderson said. “I thought I’m going to check this out. Then I started looking at the parts, (for building a drone), buying them, and before I knew it I was fully committed.”

Anderson has started his own drone racing chapter, which is the third one in the state. His goal is to be part of the Drone Racing League.

The Drone Racing League, or DRL, Anderson said, is growing and will be huge soon.

He said only 40 companies are making parts for racing drones. According to Anderson, they are predicting a $4 billion profit in the next four years.

Anderson spends many hours charging his battery packs.

It takes 40 minutes to charge them or 10 minutes with another power source.

He will be able to operate the drone for 15 minutes when he has fully charged battery packs.

“It’s a lot of wait for a little bit of flying,” said Anderson. “It’s a lot of patience.”

His quadcopter is a 250 series, which means it has a size of 250 millimeters diagonally.

He said his goal currently is to get his quadcopter running.

Other participants of the class may not have been interested in the sport of drone racing but instead want to use a drone for commercial use in the near future.

Les Shuey, participant of the class, has owned his drone since Christmas and is going to start looking into licensing it through the Federal Aviation Administration.

He is interested in getting another drone called the DJI Maverick that can fold up and be taken anywhere.

The instructors for the class were really professional and respectful, Shuey said. He learned a lot in the class, not knowing a whole lot about drones before attending.

“I thought it was really informative and joyful,” said Shuey of the class.

Bill Loring, one of the instructors of the class, said he likes to teach classes that pertain to the hobbies that he has.

“I thought it would be fun and it was,” said Loring.

Loring said the class was about quadcopters which have four propellers. Drones are also labeled as unmanned aerial vehicles.

There are certain rules to abide by which was an important part of the class too.

Loring said people with a drone should be aware they can’t fly within a certain mile limit of an airport, can’t fly over people, and can’t fly a drone higher than 400 feet. The pilot also has to keep visual sight of a drone when it is flown.

Tracy O’Neal, the other instructor of the class, said there is going to be tremendous amounts of regulation with drones because of potential abuse.

Loring said the next step for another drones class is to see what type of class would be good to follow up on.

Loring said some of the questions by the participants were dealt with learning how to fly without crashing and what drone would be good to practice with.

Three people ended up buying a drone to practice with which Loring had brought.

Another reason Loring wanted to hold the class is he heard a story of how someone bought a $2,000 drone that was ran into a house and he wanted to prevent people from doing that.

“Many of the people weren’t able to fly it before they got here and we got them started,” Loring said.

Loring said they will now be able to hover and do basic maneuvering.

There were a set of drone flying skills that Loring wanted people to practice, each one more difficult than the last.

“It’s just like playing an instrument. The more you do it, the more you gradually grow in skill,” said Loring.

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