LINDSBORG — This fall Bethany College became one of the few colleges offering a course on the use of drones, including a FAA certification exams for students who complete the class.
“This is going really, really well,” said Rande Repp, faculty member
It is believed that Bethany is one of only three colleges in Kansas — and the only school in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference — to offer the class.
It falls under the criminal justice and law major. There are six students in the first class.
“We are looking at the application of this, which would most typically be first responders,” Repp said. “It is open to anyone, there are no prerequisits. … This is what criminal justice administrators are telling us they want. If you go talk to a police chief and ask what they want … along about second or third down the list is if they can fly a drone and be a pilot that would be very handy for them.”
The class is called Aircraft Systems (UAS) Operations and is being offered for the first time this semester. Students are learning about air space, air charts, meteorology and load management, and are currently studying air crew management. Students have also been studying sectional air charts in preparation for their Federal Aviation Administration Part 107 Remote Pilot certification.
“This area of Kansas is a hotbed for aviation,” Repp said. “... It is an industry driving area.”
The FAA exam is a comprehensive examination covering the above topics and many more, including safety, radio procedure, and tower operations. Upon completion of the classroom sessions, students will be required to take the FAA exam at a proctored site off campus. Obtaining the FAA license will allow the students to fly small unmanned aerial systems in a commercial capacity.
The FAA requires biannual recertification. Bethany is providing current students in this course a lifetime subscription to a website dedicated to FAA regulations, updates and changes. This website subscription also includes guided training they can use to prepare to complete future recertification. The class of current students plan to use their FAA license in the criminal justice field. In the future, Bethany College hopes to incorporate related courses with topics such as forensic mapping, and a lab session for flight experience.
“This will probably be followed up with some forensic mapping classes,” Repp said. “Once they have a license to fly the drone they will be up there collecting imagery with it, processing that imagery and turning it into something useful. It could be a disaster recovery or locating victims or processing a map that can be used in court.”