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CCAC South to offer commercial drone intro course

| Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017, 3:42 p.m.
Lori Paluti, a FAA-certified drone pilot, practices her craft. (Submitted)
Womenanddrones.com
Lori Paluti, a FAA-certified drone pilot, practices her craft. (Submitted)
FILE - In this April 14, 2016 file photo, a drone captures videos and still images of an apartment building in Philadelphia. Federal aviation officials say so many people are registering drones and applying for drone pilot licenses, they wonder if there will eventually be millions of drones crowding the nation's skies.  (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
FILE - In this April 14, 2016 file photo, a drone captures videos and still images of an apartment building in Philadelphia. Federal aviation officials say so many people are registering drones and applying for drone pilot licenses, they wonder if there will eventually be millions of drones crowding the nation's skies. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

Flying a drone isn't as simple as taking it out of a box and launching it into the air to see how high it can go and the amazing views it can capture.

There are laws in place for when and where a drone can be flown, and anyone looking to use one commercially needs a license.

In the Pittsburgh area, unmanned aircraft system pilots are finding careers in the real estate and construction markets, utilizing drones to photograph areas and terrains, said Lori Paluti, an FAA-certified unmanned aircraft systems pilot and an instructor at the Community College of Allegheny County-South Campus.

Paluti will be teaching an introductory course on unmanned aircraft systems this spring.

In the meantime, CCAC-South will host a seminar, “An Intro to Part 107: What it Takes to Become and Operate as a Remote Pilot,” on Nov. 11 from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. The course will introduce people interested in getting certified to the topic. The event is sponsored by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.

The free seminar — which is not for the hobbyist — will provide an overview of what it takes to become a certified DRONE, Paluti said.

Attendees will be able to network with others in the field.

“More people are looking at it generally as a career,” she said. “We see all of the emerging technology happening with Apple and Google and hopefully Amazon and we want to be a part of that.”

Youths as young as 16 can get their FAA unmanned aircraft license, Paluti said. It's a career that would work for many high schoolers, she said.

“Instead of working at a burger place, they could be working here,” she said.

Law enforcement and fire departments have found drones as a vital tool in their line of work, she said.

Someday, drones are expected to be used for package delivery at homes, Paluti said.

When flying a drone, there are things to take into account — where you can fly it and how high, the make-up of the aircraft, your personal safety and that of others and what the weather is like. You have to be able to read a weather report.

“It's not just looking at WTAE. It's a little more extensive than that,” Paluti said.

All of these things will be taught in the spring course at CCAC. Paluti said she encourages people to take a course about drones before going for their FAA certified pilots license.

Stephanie Hacke is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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