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Drone Obstacle Course Trains Future Pilots at Reynolds High
Drone Obstacle Course Trains Future Pilots at Reynolds High
Posted on 10/13/2021
Drone Technology students turned the A.C. Reynolds High School football field into a 100-yard obstacle course.Featured Photos: 1. (Above) Teacher Joan Hoffman assists two Drone Technology students at A.C. Reynolds High School. 2. (Below, Right) Student Henri Marlowe navigates the obstacle course on the football field. 3. Student Tavon Lytle operates a drone on the obstacle course.

By: Benjamin Rickert
BCS Communications Dept.

It’s hard to miss all the buzz about drones. That’s why Buncombe County high schools work to ensure graduates have the skills needed to be high flyers as industries continually find ways to adopt the new technology.

Student Henri Marlowe navigates the obstacle course on the football field.On Tuesday, Oct. 12, Drone Technology students turned the A.C. Reynolds High School football field into a 100-yard obstacle course. They took turns flying and flipping the remote controlled machines through hoops, under bars, and around poles from one end zone to the other. The flight exercise was the next step in their class that recently earned them a safety certification for hobby flight through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). This semester, students will learn about regulations, airspace, aeronautical charts, flight techniques, photography, career paths, and more.

“The class starts with recreational flying, and once students earn their safety certifications, we move outside and start piloting the drones,” explained Career and Technical Education (CTE) teacher Joan Hoffman. “At the end of the course, we hope they’ll sit for the FAA’s ‘Part 107’ certification test — a national certification that will allow students to enter their careers ready to be pilots.”

Student Henri Marlowe is training to be a professional welder, but plans to take the Part 107 exam after completing Hoffman’s class so he can do commercial drone work on the side. He also plans to pursue racing with first-person-view drones.

“I wouldn’t mind recording weddings on the side,” he said.

Student Tavon Lytle operates a drone on the obstacle course.Classmate Tavon Lytle is leaning toward taking the exam because he enjoys the experience of flying and wants to keep his options open.

“It’s fun flying drones,” Lytle said. “You’re just flying, out in the air, enjoying yourself and chilling. It’s so good.”

Hoffman understands the draw to fly and wants her students to get the most from the experience.

“[Earning the certification] is going to look great on their college applications and resumes,” she said.

Last year, five Buncombe high schools taught drone classes as part of a pilot program of the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. While a statewide program is tentative, the proposed curriculum would involve a series of three CTE drone classes that contribute toward a high school diploma.

“The skillset of a drone pilot fills a gap that we’re seeing in the labor force,” said BCS CTE Director Taylor Baldwin. “Earning their pilot’s license through the FAA is an exciting credential for the students, and the hands-on skills they gain will be useful for their future careers.”

Ms. Joan Hoffman is a Part 107-certified pilot, a member of Civil Air Patrol Aerospace Educators, and is working with the area Kiwanis Club to start a drone racing league in Asheville. She also hopes to start a ‘Women Who Drone’ club at A.C. Reynolds High.


    Buncombe County Schools is in the process of reviewing its website to ensure compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Buncombe County Schools does not discriminate on the basis of sex in its education programs or activities and is required by Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 and federal regulations to not discriminate in such a manner. This requirement extends to admission and employment. Inquiries about the application of Title IX and its implementing federal regulations may be referred to the Title IX Coordinator and/or the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education. The Title IX Coordinator's contact information is: Shanon Martin, shanon.martin@bcsemail.org, 828-255-5918, 175 Bingham Road, Asheville, NC 28806.

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