Local drone hobbyists test aircraft’s search and rescue potential


BLOUNTVILLE, TN (WJHL) –  Northeast State Community College recently added drone classes to its aviation program. Aviation Instructor Richard Blevins told News Channel 11, students will learn how to use drones and about various situations that the aircraft can be helpful in.

Blevins said drones can be especially helpful during search and rescue situations.

In Fall Branch, one volunteer fire fighter has already put his personal drone to good use.

Fall branch Public Information Officer Pat Boone is a drone hobbyist, but told News Channel 11, he see’s life-saving potential in his aircraft

“To be able to be quick and cover a large area fast….if you’ve got a large fire that’s moving on the side of a mountain I could take that up in just a matter of minutes and see which way the fire is moving,” said Boone.

Boone said there’s a growing interest in drones in the region and he thinks drone education could be an asset to the region.

Northeast State Community College leaders thought so too and told us that’s why they added the aircraft to the school’s curriculum.

“The technology in aviation is really shifting and there [have]  been very few shifts in aviation technology in the past 100 years,” said Blevins.

But with that new technology comes restrictions.

Blevins said drones can only be flown up to 400 feet, operators must keep the aircraft in their sight, drones cannot be flown at night, and aircraft must be registered with the Federal Aviation Administration.

“We’ve had a lot of people being irresponsible with these aircraft these particular aircraft can fly at 55 miles an hour, the height can realistically, could be several thousand feet,” said Blevins.

Boone said he would like to train first responders in the Tri-Cities region on how they can use drones in various emergency situations.

Accredited drone classes will begin at Northeast State this fall.Copyright 2016 WJHL. All rights reserved.

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