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Cincinnati Flight School Delves Into Drone Training Market

Ann Thompson
Former fighter pilot Dean Toth is Director of Drone Operations for Flamingo Air.

Chances are good you'll find a quadcopter, commonly known as a "drone," underneath your Christmas tree this year. The Federal Aviation Administration predicts 1 million people will get them as gifts.

This growth explosion has the FAA set to act on a number of recommendations including a mandate to register ones weighing at least a half a pound.

Flamingo Air President Dave MacDonald says "The problem is, most of these people have no idea what they are doing."

He is offering what he says is the first drone training class of its kind in the region, taught by a licensed pilot. He unveiled "Worker Bee Drone Training," Tuesday at Lunken Airport, for hobbyists and commercial operators.

The two-day course is not cheap. But MacDonald says the $3,000 cost includes a $1,500 drone with high definition camera system.

Former fighter pilot, now Director of Drone Operations for Flamingo Air Dean Toth, teaches the class. He says, "Our primary goal is to train and educate people out there. The new technology is coming and regardless if we like it or don't like it, we need to understand what the limitations are and what your rights are."

President of Flamingo's Flight Academy, Sharon McGee, says the class teaches people how to operate drones safely and legally.

Some of the rules include:

  • Don't fly above 400 ft.
  • Don't fly within 5 miles of an airport
  • Keep your drone within eyesight
  • Don't fly over people, personal property or vehicles

It pays to be trained

Skypan International wasn't flying its drones legally and faces a record $2 million dollar fine. It was taking aerial pictures of buildings in Chicago and New York.