For the past several days, the high-pitched whir of small drones could be heard over Callahan Park, much to the interest of all who looked skyward.
The free two-week camp, funded by the 21st Century afterschool program through the Bradford Family YMCA, has been teaching a group of kids in grades six through 12, how to fly the aircraft as well as take photographs from the devices. Classes are held both indoors and outside and include all materials, transportation if needed, and free lunches sponsored by the Summer Food Service Program.
Flight Instructor Charlie Allocco of Virginia said there is still room for more students from the Bradford Area School District if they would want to join the camp next week from 9 a.m. to 1 pm. Monday through Thursday.
“Anybody can fly a drone but you need a special type of license to be able to use it commercially for real estate, which I do, and marketing, which I do, as well, for roof inspections and things like that,” said Allocco, who is an FAA registered commercial drone pilot.
Allocco said Mary Campbell, who oversees the 21st Century program at the YMCA, asked him to oversee the program and teach the basic foundations of flight, still photography, videos and his profession. This will include photo editing skills, as well as where to purchase the aircraft.
“We’re practicing the basic maneuvers and the basic controls,” Allocco said during a break from instruction.
Student Daulton Wyant, 14, said he has enjoyed the class because of his interests in drones, mechanics and technology.
“I like drones mostly, but I’m also into robotics” and BattleBots, Daulton said. “I do try to make things in my garage with limited resources. I would try to make my own drone if I get enough parts.”
Sherry Rodgers, a YMCA employee overseeing the 21st Century program, was at the outdoor class with other Y employees who provided assistance, as needed.
“We’ve had this grant for years to do 21st Century programs,” Rodgers explained. “This is just the summer program.”
She and fellow employee, Rachel Avey, said the drone program fits the core mission of 21st Century, which is to provide science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) activities for youngsters.
Avey said following next week’s drone camp, students are invited to attend a college and career exploration program that will be sponsored by 21st Century through the end of the month. Students will also learn more about computers and internet technology during the program.
“We’re doing field trips around town and will have speakers come in,” Avey added. Students will also tour factories in the area and explore Main Street businesses.
For more information, or to sign up for the drone program, and/or the career exploration group, text SUMMER to 585-375-1215.