Drone training takes off at EDGE Center

Aug 23, 2021Melissa Trevizo

From hobbyists to business owners to military and police agencies, drones are becoming more common as the technology that guides them escalates.

San Jacinto College's EDGE Center at the Houston Spaceport/Ellington Airport offers a comprehensive drone training program to help students get their Federal Aviation Administration certified drone pilot license and master drone flight.

"Drone technology is constantly becoming more advanced all the time," said John Redman, instructor. "Many different industries and government agencies use this technology to provide greater workplace efficiency, reduce costs, and enhance employee safety."

The EDGE Center offers three 16-hour drone courses:

  • Drone/sUAS FAA Part 107 Test Prep ($169): Prepares students to take the FAA Part 107 drone pilot license knowledge exam to get a commercial license (exam and license are about $160 extra).
  • Drone Flight Operations ($279): Teaches flight safety and drone use according to FAA regulations. Students start with drone simulation and work up to basic and advanced drone navigation through an obstacle course.
  • Drone Build Class ($599): Teaches students how to build their own basic drone. Course costs include supplies to build a drone.

Among local community colleges, San Jac is unique in offering the flight operations and drone build classes.

Most recently, employees from the City of Pasadena enrolled in the Drone Flight Operations course to start their drone journey for the Pasadena Channel and to heighten the city's photography.

"We are looking to start taking aerial shots and footage for the Pasadena Channel," said Eddie Perez, video producer. "Safety is important to the city, and learning how to properly control the drone through these courses seemed an ideal fit. We are going to take Part 107 to become licensed next."

Each San Jac drone class includes no more than nine students, giving everyone plenty of hands-on experience and face-to-face learning with Redman, a 40-year flight veteran.

During his 20 years in the Air Force, Redman worked as a crew chief for F-16s and F-117A stealth fighters. Outside San Jac, he runs Viper Aviation, a private aircraft build company, and works as a counter unmanned aircraft systems drone pilot, training all U.S. military branches for drone combat.

"Right now, the drone flying world is exploding," he said. "There's no doubt the way society is going that it's going to be big."

Drone training is one of many options at the EDGE Center. Opened in spring 2020, the center offers aerospace manufacturing tracks for prospective and incumbent aerospace and aviation workers.

For more information about drone classes and other EDGE Center offerings, call 281-459-5472 or email aerospace@sjcd.edu.

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