When Brian Sweeney had the idea to start a drone-focused Explorer post in North Carolina, he figured he’d have no trouble filling the 10 available spaces.

He was 100 percent correct.

At least 28 young people expressed interest in joining Explorer Post 1194, and Sweeney accepted the first 10 who applied. (The limit was 10 because that’s how many drones Sweeney was able to purchase using a grant from the Bosch Community Fund.)

Sweeney, Exploring director for the Charlotte, N.C.-based Mecklenburg County Council, launched the STEM-centric post in September 2018.

During six sessions held over the course of eight months, these Explorers will:

  • Learn how drones are used in business
  • Discover careers that involve flying drones
  • Use simulators to learn how to fly a drone
  • Enjoy plenty of actual flying, both indoors and out

“In the drone world, there are many exciting careers that are yet to be determined,” Sweeney says. “Who knows? Some the Explorers may go on to a vibrant and exciting career in aviation.”

What is Exploring?

Exploring, which is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year, gives young people ages 14 to 20 hands-on, real-world experience in a career field that interests them.

Each Exploring post caters to a particular career field, such as law enforcement, business or health care.

Explorer Post 1194, with its focus on drones, sits in the Aviation career field.

Launching Post 1194

To get the drone-focused Explorer post off the ground, Sweeney started by finding adults who were willing to share their unique skills with young people.

He found instant allies in Dale Callan of Central Piedmont Community College and Joe Valasquez of DroneScape, a local drone company that works with the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

DroneScape gained statewide recognition for its work in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence in 2018. Drone operators captured 2,600 photos and videos of damage and flooding, giving first responders a detailed look at the destruction.

Next, Sweeney found additional drone companies and drone enthusiasts, asking each to lead a session with the Explorers.

Their schedule looks like this:

  • September: Class overview, introduction to drones, discussion about drone laws
  • October: Career paths involving drones, how to start a drone company (with Leo Adams of Skye Link, a professional drone services company)
  • November: Drone tricks and traps and drone flying
  • February: Drone flying and drone demos
  • March: Drone reconnaissance and law enforcement (with Andrew Phillips of SOAR Imagery)
  • April: Drone use in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (with Yvonne Becker of Pro Sky Photo)

Get involved

Exploring helps young people discover their futures, and you can be a part of the journey.

To learn more about joining, starting or supporting an Explorer post near you, visit the Exploring site.

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