OCCC course offers hands-on training for drone enthusiasts 

click to enlarge Instructor Shane Snyder during a free two-hour sUAS (Drone) operator orientation class at OCCC's Professional Development Institute located off the main campus in the Plaza Major at the Crossroads Mall area, 11-9-15. - MARK HANCOCK
  • Mark Hancock
  • Instructor Shane Snyder during a free two-hour sUAS (Drone) operator orientation class at OCCC's Professional Development Institute located off the main campus in the Plaza Major at the Crossroads Mall area, 11-9-15.

As Shane Snyder watched interest in drones grow, he also recognized that education has not kept up with that increasing demand.

“There’s a lot of [people] who buy cheap ones, all the way through expensive ones,” he said. “They put it up in the air, and they wonder, ‘I crashed it; I don’t know what happened.’”

Snyder has 15 years of experience flying remote control planes, quadcopters and drones and said he hopes his course at Oklahoma City Community College (OCCC) will give newcomers a greater understanding of when and how to fly drones. The Small Unmanned Aerial Systems (sUAS) program runs Dec. 7-18 at OCCC’s Professional Development Institute, 7124 Interstate 35 Service Road near Plaza Mayor at the Crossroads.

Registration is $1,499 and includes the purchase of a quadcopter, flight simulation software and a radio transmitter, and students can keep each of them after the course is completed.

Half of the sUAS program involves hands-on flight instruction.

In compliance with Federal Aviation Administration airspace rules, training will occur indoors. When flying recreationally, drone pilots must stay within a 400-foot sky cap, Snyder said. They also are restricted from flying within five miles of an airport or 25 feet of people.

When not engaging in hands-on coursework, Snyder said students will learn about potential drone uses and commercial and legal guidelines.

“We’ll ask you to do a little homework here and there, and each night and each day, it’ll be a combination of all three,” he said.

The course, intended for the curious and those with an idea of what they want to do with a drone, is a first-of-its-kind offering at OCCC, and Snyder said training classes in general are “almost a brand-new thing” globally.

In the future, however, he said training like this will increase as sUAS commercial uses are more routinely demonstrated to the public.

“There’s 100 different things you can do with these things and 100 we haven’t thought of,” he said. “We’re going to go over all these things, and by the end of the class, everyone will go, ‘I had no idea you could do that, and that’s actually a really good idea; I may pursue this instead. I was thinking of the wrong use.’”

Snyder admitted that he has considered getting involved in commercial drone use himself. In the next five to 10 years, he said, the military will no longer be the first thing people think of when drones are mentioned. Instead, they will become another part of daily civilian life as package deliverers, landscape surveyors and data collectors.

Before any of that can happen, however, Snyder said the public will need to demonstrate some knowledge of proper and legal use of the technology.

“The biggest thing we’re going to teach is safety,” he said. “We have to maintain a safe flying practice or the FAA is never going to let this get off the ground.”

For more information or to register, call Patrick Clanin at 682-7854 or email patrick.a.clanin@occc.edu.

Print Headline: High-flying discipline, An OCCC course offers hands-on training to curious drone enthusiasts and aspiring professionals alike.

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