Students discuss how drones have influenced their lives

Elianna Oliver, Copy Editor

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The earth is filled with miles of sky that extend farther than a human’s field of vision. With new technologies, aside from airplanes, people are exploring this open space at new heights with the help of drones. Senior Daniel Roarty said he has a drone of his own that sparked his future career path.

“I want to go into engineering — electrical engineering specifically — to do drone software development,” Roarty said. “I’m going to be working on Avionics and Electronics in the Air Force — something specific to drones. I’ll be working on fighter jets and if high tech equipment breaks, I’ll be the one who figures out what is wrong with it, how it happened, when it happened and how to prevent it next time.”

Aside from using his drone to build on his skills for his future endeavors, Roarty said he uses his drone recreationally with his friends. He said he appreciates the bonds he has built with people over their interest in his drone and loves capturing moments from new heights.

“When I go on dates or flying with my friends, I can take pictures that look really cool from the sky,” Roarty said. “We did this stupid 1980s picture thing where we all jumped at the exact same time, but it’s really funny.”

Similar to Roarty, senior Adam Morse said he has a drone that he likes to take pictures with. Morse is more keen to taking nature photography and has done so in a wide range of areas.

“I went to Moab, Utah, and filmed a lot, not in the national park but just in the areas around them in the desert,” Morse said. “As we were going Jeep off-roading I got lots of cool mountain shots. I’ve shot as well in Colorado, and that’s my ideal location — right on top of a mountain or on a cliff edge.”

In order to successfully pick a good drone, both Roarty and Morse said the most important thing is to research. While one drone may be better for racing, another may be better for taking pictures.

“I would say definitely do your research, I know everyone always say that, but it definitely helps out to know what you want,” Roarty said. “Each drone has a different aspect for different environments. Going into what the aspect that stood out the most for me was the drone’s size. It’s small and really easy to travel with — you don’t need a giant case for it. I throw it in some bag and it goes anywhere.”

Depending on how much money someone is willing to spend, Morse said what one spends truly is what one gets. More money generally correlates with more advanced technology and an increased platform of possible uses.

“If you spend the right amount of money, you’ll get one that basically can fly itself, and all you’re doing is just telling it how to fly itself, so it’s really not too hard,” Morse said.

In order to learn how to operate his drone, Morse said he watched YouTube tutorials and then practiced often until he got the hang of it. While Morse said his drone wasn’t too hard to operate, he has dealt with others that have been.

“At CAPS [Center for Advanced Professional Studies], we work with building our own drones through the aerospace class. Those drones were a lot harder to fly because they didn’t come with all the technology like GPS, stabilization and tracking,” Morse said. “So basically the drone, instead of just staying in one place, will start moving around randomly in the area.”

In order to fly drones, both Morse and Roarty said it is very important to be aware and follow regulations, laws and restrictions. One must first register their drone in order to operate it legally.

“When you get a drone, you should register it under the FAA, and there’s two ways you can do that,” Morse said. “You can either do it as a hobbyist and just register it and then adhere to their laws, or you can take a remote pilot certification test and register as a commercial pilot — which is if you wanted to make money with the pictures you took, or like with drone service, you need to do it that way.”

After registering online, the job as a drone pilot isn’t over. There are laws to adhere to every time one flies their drone. Morse said drones are as fun as they are dangerous, so it is important to be cautious.

“Every time you fly, you have to go online and there’s the CGI map where it tells you where you’re allowed to fly [and] where you can’t fly,” Roarty said. “[In] some areas, you need to type in your drone code and it will grant you access for only like an hour. If it’s an airport, you can’t fly within about a half mile of the airport.”

Taking into consideration all the laws and being careful to keep himself safe and others around him, Morse said he’s excited for the future in store with his drone.

“I kind of hope to either join or start a drone club where we might do photography stuff for K-State or just explore different drone possibilities,” Morse said. “I hope to start a drone aerial photography business over the summer as well, so that I can make some money with the drone and just pursue the drone hobby in a different direction.”

Both Morse and Roarty said drones have been a big part of their lives, and have shaped their futures. Roarty said he has not only grown in his appreciation of the world because of his drone, he also credits his drone for deciding his future.

“Flying the drone makes me feel more connected to the environment and it [makes] me realize how beautiful nature is,” Roarty said. “It’s important because it separates me from the people who play video games all the time, and it’s something that has so much potential. That one drone led me to my future with the air force.”

Drones can be used in many different ways, but at the end of the day, Morse said what he enjoys most is sharing his experiences with others. He said his drone has given him the opportunity to show others the world in a new light.

“Flying my drone makes me feel as if I’m no longer bound to the ground,” Morse said. “I feel as if I can fly in the sky like a bird, and it’s similar to the feeling of flying in a plane and looking at the earth from above. Having a drone is important to me because I feel like I can capture a unique perspective of the world that other people can’t, and I can share the beauty of the world — whether it be the cities we live in, or the simplicity and natural beauty of nature.”

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