Elizabethton High drone piloting class takes off

A student holds a drone before piloting it. (Thomas Gray/WCYB)

Drones are expected to produce a lot of jobs in the future. For that reason, seven students at Elizabethton High School are working to earn their remote pilot certificates from the Federal Aviation Administration through a special drone piloting class. It's one of a few schools in the state offering the instruction.

The class started this semester, and the program uses an in-class flight simulator, one of only a few in use in high schools across the country.

"With the drones taking off, there's a real need for folks to have their licenses," Aviation Teacher Dan Mills said, referring to future job possibilities involving drones, such as aerial photography and drone deliveries.

He said a big focus is teaching students about legal boundaries.

"I'm 68 years old,” Mills said. “These guys grew with computers and all that, so they're teaching me. I'm teaching them more of the regulations and the bookworm part of it."

Students said the class is fun, and aviation also helps them with math and science.

"It helps a lot to know about physics,” student Max Kelly said. “It's not required, but it definitely helps tremendously."

"They don't see how math and science and English all ties in to their life,” Mills said. “We can get them in a program that's fun, and they can start to see, ‘Hey I have to know how to read. I see how math ties in.’"

Elizabethton's drone students are in advanced classes. First, they had to learn to fly planes using a simulator.

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