Several years ago, Probyn Thompson saw the writing in the skies. A retired Air Force officer and pilot, Thompson closed out his career training airmen to fly drones in unmanned missions over Afghanistan.
“In 2016 I saw that this commercial drone industry was taking over. So I started doing instruction for that on my own,” said Thompson. “This is one of those areas somebody is going to have to learn how to fix them, how to program them, how to take the data and analyze it. There’s a lot of jobs there.”
Since then, Thompson has been teaching a mixture of in-person and remote commercial drone classes at colleges, trade schools and law enforcement agencies.
Later this month, his program lands at Cleveland Community College.
The college’s continuing education department has partnered with Thompson to offer a six-week commercial drone pilot program.
Conducted online over that six weeks, the course covers topics from unmanned aircraft regulation, operation in weather and commercial laws regarding drones.
During the online portion of the course, students meet once per week with Thompson via a web call, where he assigns weekly homework assignments and uploads training videos and reading materials for the class.
At the end of the online portion of the class, students will spend a weekend flying drones with Thompson, applying lessons learned in the course as well as some real-world use cases for drones.
“There’s survey mapping and land development projects, construction projects, those are things we want people to come out of the class knowing how to do that so they can go out and find these jobs,” said Thompson.
Students who complete the course will be able to sit for the Federal Aviation Administration’s Part 107 Remote Pilot Certification test. A passing score is required for anyone looking to use a drone for any kind of business venture in the United States.
“We have a 100 percent success rate because I don’t endorse students to test until they are ready,” Thompson said.
Thompson’s course is open to anyone, regardless of experience with a drone.
Signups for the course are available now on the Cleveland Community College website.