boy holding drone controls

Troy Paguirigan watches a live video feed on a monitor to pilot his drone aircraft at the UH drone boot camp. (Photo by Darrell Leong, UH Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation)

drone and boy with drone controls

Josh Levy, UH Unmanned Aerial System Program coordinator, left, helped Henry Paguirigan and his son Troy learn how to pilot their drone aircraft. (Photo by Darrell Leong, UH Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation)

drone flying a little off the ground with people watching

Successful take-off! (Photo by Darrell Leong, UH Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation)

“Coolest event ever!” That’s how Margo Edwards described the first-ever drone boot camp at Les Murakami Stadium. About 100 people attended the March 30 event hosted by the University of Hawaiʻi Applied Research Laboratory (ARL) in collaboration with the Office of the Vice President of Research and Innovation.

Edwards, director of ARL, said many of the 60 people who registered to get expert instruction about piloting a drone aircraft told her the event was exactly what they needed after they purchased a drone and then realized they really were afraid to fly (pronounced “crash”) their expensive aircraft. “As this technology pops out into the world UH personnel have the skill set to be able to respond very quickly to people who need our help and say, here’s how you do it,” she said.

Certified trainers provided basic instructions for operating unmanned aerial systems as well as reference materials to understand federal airspace regulations. The event included a drone racing exhibition and displays of different drones and their applications by UH Mānoa engineering laboratories, commercial vendors and federal agencies.

“We did learn a lot,” said Henry Paguirigan who attended the event with his 9-year-old son Troy. Paguirigan said the main thing for him was that he bought a drone and wasn’t really sure how to or where to fly it because of all the rules and regulations. He said he is much more confident now, and so is Troy.

For more on the drone boot camp see the Applied Research Laboratory website.

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