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Classes available in Syracuse to learn to fly drone aircraft

Ellen Abbott
A class is being offered by SkyOp to teach people to fly drones

One of the businesses that has settled in central New York because of the growing drone industry is a company that teaches people how to fly unmanned aerial systems.

GENIUS NY is a yearlong business accelerator in Syracuse that’s home to companies like SkyOP, an unmanned aerial systems training establishment that also operates out of Canandaigua. Co-founder Brian Pitre says SkyOP offers an 18-hour hands-on course at the Tech Garden that starts with learning some of the intricacies of flying drones.

“Many people find that…they get fooled by looking at the device, even though it’s within line of site, and end up crashing into a tree or building, because they don’t understand the depth perception,” said Pitre.

The course then prepares students for FAA certification, that is necessary to operate a drone for any business purpose. Pitre says the prospect of using drones brings in students from many kinds of business.

“There’s a lot of people that are out doing real estate videos, things of that nature. More and more engineering companies are coming through our classes for example and learning how this technology affects what they do and their business and how they can do things better, less expensive with these flying systems,” said Pitre.

Growing the drone industry in central New York and the Mohawk Valley is one of the keys of the state’s Upstate Revitalization Initiative awarded to central New York almost two years ago.

Pitre says it’s all led to jobs being created.

“Because of the GENIUS NY program, I’ve been able to hire multiple people into my company today,” he said. “And that’s happening with the other GENIUS members along with watching other people grow their own companies.”

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.