Ohio Community College Approved for Drone Testing

The FAA has granted Ohio's Sinclair Community College approvals to train students in how to safely fly drones, which includes avoiding airports and keeping the vehicle within eyesight the whole time.

by Barrie Barber, Dayton Daily News, Ohio / November 13, 2015 0
In just a few decades drones have evolved from secret military weapons to vehicles capable of delivering pressed pants or hot pizza to your door. So it’s no wonder some universities are developing new degree programs in drone technology. U.S. Navy/Greg Vojtko

(TNS) -- Sinclair Community College has landed Federal Aviation Administration permission to fly drones at two new spots, including the National Center for Medical Readiness in Fairborn, a college official said Thursday.

Sinclair also received the FAA's sought-after endorsement to fly four different drones at Ohio State University's Don Scott Airport near Columbus. OSU and Sinclair will team up on unmanned aerial vehicle flights at the suburban airfield that's one of the busiest in the state, said Deborah Norris, Sinclair vice president of workforce development and corporate services.

"This is a way for Ohio State to have more exposure in (unmanned aerial systems) through their partnership with us," she said.

The community college will fly a small quadcopter at NCMR for "aerial situational awareness" of the property, dubbed Calamityville, during military exercises, such as with Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, she said.

"This gives us another tool to support those exercises," she said. "It adds a new dimension to the training that's been going on."

Drone flights at both must stay in restricted airspace during daylight hours and the operator must maintain line of sight with the unmanned aircraft, she said.

Sinclair has 11 separate FAA Certificates of Authorizations, or Section 333 exemptions which allow commercial flight, to fly small drones. The community college flies drones at Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport and Wilmington Air Park, also.

Sinclair has asked the FAA for permission to fly at the Miami University Airport near Oxford. There, Sinclair could participate in tests to integrate drones into the national airspace, Norris said in an email.

The community college opened the $5 million National UAS Training and Certification Center in August. Students can design, build and test small drones at the 28,000-square-foot facility. An indoor flight range under construction at its downtown Dayton campus is expected to open in December, she said.

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