The Sky's No Limit

The Sky's No Limit
Posted on 12/21/2021
A student in the BSSD Aviation Program holds a drone

There are plenty of student drivers around any high school. At the Blue Springs School District’s Career & Innovation Center, those drivers are not only on the ground, but also in the sky.

Students in the Unmanned Aircraft Systems class offered through a partnership with the University of Central Missouri (UCM) are learning the basics of drone piloting along with the safety and business application for drone aircraft.

The class is part of the BSSD’s Aviation program. The course encompasses Aircraft Propulsion Systems, History of Aviation, Private Pilot Ground School and Unmanned Aircraft Systems. The Unmanned Aircraft Systems class is taught by former Independence Police officer Seth Bosch and Officer Russell Berry of the BSSD’s Department of Public Safety (DPS).
Next semester, the class will be named Drones and available as an elective five days a week.

One of the main goals of the class is for students to take the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Part 107 test, qualifying them to fly certified commercial drones.

“Students learn the basic concepts of flying unmanned aircraft and specifically drones,” Berry said. “They learn about flight planning and safety checklists pre-flight as well as safety precautions during flight.”

In order to fly drones under the FAA’s Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Rule (Part 107), students must obtain a Remote Pilot Certificate from the FAA. This certificate demonstrates they understand the regulations, operating requirements, and procedures for safely flying drones. Students are also taught basic safety precautions along with flying skills.

Blue Springs High School senior Corbin Merriott has dreamed of being a pilot and said the Aviation program is something he hopes to gain knowledge and opportunities from.

I’ve wanted to be a pilot and been waiting to take this class my senior year,” he said. “If you pass the Part 107 test and decide to go to UCM, you can fly immediately coming out of high school. I would be interested in that.”

Merriott has also flown drones in the past for fun, but the challenge of flying commercially is being precise and paying attention to all the small details.
“We’ve done some infinity shapes around poles and had to go around buildings while keeping a line of sight. It’s mostly about keeping a good pace while turning at the same time” he said. “You also need to understand how your engine works – such as engines on planes or motors on drones. It all ties into the aircraft engines class we are taking.”

Students in the Unmanned Aircraft Systems class also learn the myriad of applications drones have. Berry and Bosch both teach from experience having used drones for police and safety work, and also present business applications such as mapping, surveying and photography.

“As I have been more involved in the class, the benefits of partnering with DPS were very apparent, Officer Berry said. “Drones are being utilized by law enforcement for many purposes, but search and rescue and crowd monitoring stand out as potential usages. Also, another benefit is the positive interaction with our students with DPS Officers to help continue that role of building relationships with our students to help them exceed beyond the school environment.”

Blue Springs South senior Evan Giles enrolled in the Aviation program after hearing about it at a school assembly. He was excited to begin the courses and see if the field was for him.

“It was a little scary going into it at first and I didn’t know what to expect from it,” he said about his first time flying a drone.

“I didn’t realize how many people and businesses use drones until I took this class. I think the demand is definitely high.”

I wanted to get a good understanding of the aviation field to see if it is really for me. There is a lot of science and engineering and I enjoy that.”