Drone Pilot SchoolHudson ISD students learn unique skills in aeronautics, aviation program

August 1, 2021by helo-10
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HUDSON, Texas (KTRE) – The Hudson Hornets are taking to the skies … literally! With the program’s flight plans charted back in 2016, their Aviation and Aeronautics program has many folks buzzing.

You’ve heard the saying, “The Sky’s the Limit.” But the buzzing among these Hornets at Hudson ISD implies reaching for the skies is just scratching the surface.

“This class is beyond what any kid could ever imagine,” eighth grader Alex Capps said.

The district offers a five-year middle and high school aeronautics and aviation STEM program with around 55 students taking part in the program this school year.

“We start with rocketry,” program instructor Carla Ladner said. “We are also working on our Level 1 certification exam on rocketry. As soon as COVID-19 lifts a little bit, we have been invited to get our certification at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.”

“We have the opportunity to build rockets that go thousands of feet into the air,” Capps said. “I mean who would have ever imagined being able to do that.”

From rocketry, the students learn about drones.

“We have a majority of our second- and third-year students working on their commercial drone pilot certification,” Ladner said. “We have several students moving from the commercial pilot exams in the private pilot exams.”

“Some people might think they’re toys but there are a lot of people that use them for big purposes,” tenth grade student Hold Nichols said. “Power management, agriculture.”

“Law enforcement officers and military,” ninth grader Zach Rowell added. “The certification would be very helpful to help people not endanger their lives when they could just use a drone and get up there to do it way quicker and way more efficient.”

And from drones the students move to aviation; learning not only how to fly an actual plane, but also to work with its parts to build one.

“We are practicing with the FAA exams,” Ladner said.

“We definitely want to use these skills in our future lives,” tenth grade student Baylee Ward said. “We definitely want to use this as a career path. So being able to be part of a program that gives us the knowledge that we need to progress in those areas of expertise is extremely amazing.”

“Directly out of high school, we’ll have job opportunities at our feet, and we’ll be able to pick from them,” classmate Ellie Ross said. “We can go to college and advance on these skills but we have our basics done right out of high school at 16 years old. We know how to build an aircraft and fly an aircraft.”

“It’s such a privilege out here at Hudson to have this amazing program and get to learn about the rockets, the drones, and fly on the simulators,” senior Kylie McCarty said. “Not many kids ever have the opportunity to do that so at Hudson we are definitely blessed. “Without Mrs. Ladner, this program wouldn’t be what it is today.”

Ladner says one of their goals is to have a hanger on campus to house the program and for them to build their very own light aircraft.

Copyright 2021 KTRE. All rights reserved.



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There is more to being a drone pilot than just buying a machine and flying in your backyard. It can be that simple, but most of us will need to understand some drone laws before we try to take to the sky.

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