Florida Panhandle Technical College Graduates First Drone Program Students

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) – The Florida Panhandle Technical College in Chipley just graduated the first members of its drone program.

“The FAA has regulations set aside where they’re not supposed to receive funding unless you’ve had that certification, so that’s kinda what we’re trying to do is help people get certification so they can work in the field,” Public Safety Coordinator Brandon Stevenson said.

Marianna Fire Department leaders just completed the program. They’ll be able to use drones to assist with fires, as well as search and rescue.

“We can deploy the drone and it can give us a bird’s eye view of what’s really going on and what’s taking place on some things we may miss in our initial size up on the ground,” Marianna Fire Chief Nicky Lovett said.

The drones will also help insurance rates and self-assessments.

“‘Hey, how do you feel like this went? Well looking at this, this team probably could have done this a little different,'” Marianna Fire Captain and Fire Marshal George Gay said. “That’s just an asset that we can’t even speak how much it’s great.”

Instructors say the drone industry will generate up to 15,000 jobs for this area over the next decade.

“Now, for less than $2,000, the consumer which is now a professional with a Part 107 FAA certification can literally go out there and make money with a drone,” Paul Goulding with FPTC’s Audio and Video Production Department said.

The class recently provided photo and video services to the Highway 79 Corridor Project, possibly saving Bonifay and Holmes and Washington counties close to $25,000. [Click for More]