FAA Engages Young Adults With Drones
A senior official on the FAA team handling drone regulation and authorizations has lined up veteran flight instructors from a Connecticut flight school to help create the agency’s first Aviation Career Education Academy that’s all about drones. Aviation Safety Inspector Marilyn Pearson hopes the weeklong program will become a model for similar programs across the country.
It all began with what was a terrifying moment for a teenager: Ryan Felner of Westport, Connecticut, caught Pearson’s attention through media coverage of his entrepreneurial efforts starting a drone business—at age 15. Pearson recalled in a telephone interview that she tracked Felner down and called him to give a gentle reminder that the minimum age for Part 107 pilots is 16.
“I reached out to him and congratulated him on his business endeavors and explained what the rule meant,” said Pearson, who was part of the FAA team that wrote the rules that are now known as now Part 107. “He needed to stop operating.”
Felner, who at first seemed to Pearson to be terrified to be in the crosshairs of the FAA, readily agreed, and over the course of the ensuing year the two communicated, Pearson offering advice and expertise to help the young man understand airspace and some of the fine points of aeronautics that were not familiar to a teen lacking manned aviation experience. Felner took the Part 107 written exam when he turned 16, and was invited, along with Pearson, to speak about their experience at a Maker Faire in town. That led to the local superintendent of schools approaching Pearson to inquire about creating an opportunity to harness youth interest in drones more broadly. Continue reading about how the FAA is engaging the younger generation.