Arlington — The North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) hosted a workshop, “Know Before You Fly Your Drone,” to inform the public about operational requirements, guidelines, and resources for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) aka drones. The workshop, held on Saturday, Jan. 18, at the NCTCOG offices in Arlington, was one of 12 the NCTCOG plans to have in the next two years.
“I’m really pleased with this event,” Maggie Schuster of UAS plus services said. “This is our first outreach program. This is the first initiative I’ve heard of in the country where we’re bringing the information out to the community, as opposed to you come to us, and we’ll give you the information. We’re actually going out face to face. You’re meeting people that actually have been working with UAS in some kind of capacity.
“Ultimately, this workshop is not only for public awareness, but it’s to establish and build a UAS community locally. I think that’s really important.”
Sharon Rossmark, CEO of Women and Drones, spoke at the conference about educating people on drones.
“When I’m working with kids, I show a slide to them,” Rossmark said. “It has various types of aviation vehicles, and then I add a drone. Why am I adding a drone? It’s another form of aviation.
“Once [a drone] in the air outdoors, you’re flying in the National Airspace. A lot of people don’t understand that. When you take some of the larger [drones] you really start to understand this is not about a toy. This is serious.
“We start training individuals and kids the age of five about flying drones, because they’re ordering [drones] off Amazon and going to Target and buying them. We’re saying stop, because you’re flying in the National Airspace with other types of aircraft.”
Rossmark shared statics showing from 2016 to 2019 about the growth of drone use.
“[Drones are] already at 154,000 [units sold] and when you compare that to passenger services, your Delta, American Airlines, United, they’re at 167,000 [aircraft]; [drones are] at 154,000. You can see this is growing. It is not going way. This is important for people understand.”
Alvin Brunner, an Aviation Safety Inspector for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) discussed different ways people can receive fines by incorrectly operating their drones.
“If you were operating in the exclusion zone and you interfere with an aircraft that has to go around to avoid you, you can be fined up to a year in jail,” Brunner said. “That’s how serious they are.
“If you’re kind of stupid and careless, and you end up inadvertently seriously hurting somebody, you can be fined up to 10 years in jail.
“If you knowingly do it, like you want to hit this aircraft, then you will spend your life in jail. So if you’re operating near an airport, you better have your ducks in a row.”
Andrew Bennett enjoyed the various speakers.
“I thought it was informative,” Bennett said. “I’m new to this industry as a hobbyist. I’m just trying to do a little better understanding I’m doing the right things.
“I just received some exposure to some other opportunities out there. I’m interested in learning about the 107 certification and potential job opportunities.
“I enjoyed the variety of experiences they brought to the table. You had some folks from the federal governments, local governments, and independent operators.”
Written by Tricia Sims