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Drone Pilot Ground School Scholarship Recipient Helps Community Recover from Natural Disaster with Drone Documentary

BY Isabella Lee
13 July 2018

Drone Pilot Ground School (DPGS) scholarship recipient, Carl Hayden, is using his new skills as a drone pilot to give back to his community in Amherst County, Virginia. On April 15, 2018, Amherst County was hit by a destructive tornado. The tornado caused damage to 25 homes and injury to seven people. Thankfully, no fatalities were reported.

Hayden’s home and family were not hit by the tornado, but some of his friends and classmates were not as fortunate.

“Thankfully I wasn’t hit; but a few of my friends and soccer team mates had their homes completely destroyed.”

First responders and emergency service providers across the United States have been using drones to assist with natural disaster recovery. Hayden’s high school technology club, Amherst Lancers Tech Club, was granted permission by the County Sheriff’s department to fly their drones over the impacted area.

Our tech club teacher, Mike Cargill, offered our assistance, and we were able to help EMS/Sheriff/utilities with aerial views of the aftermath, as well as help locate personal effects of those whose homes were destroyed. This has become an ongoing project documenting the disaster itself, cleanup, and reclamation.

-Carl Hayden, DPGS Student and Scholarship Recipient

Amherst VA Tornado 2018

A home damaged by the tornado in Elon, Virginia on April 15, 2018. Photo by NOAA via Wikimedia Commons.

An Ongoing Effort — Drone Documentary

What began as a volunteer effort has evolved into an ongoing service and film project, “Beyond the Storm,” — a year-long docuseries that follows the community’s recovery and progress after the tornado.

The local news channel, WDBJ7, reported on the Amherst Lancers Tech Club’s efforts to help the community and document the tornado recovery.

You can view clips from the docuseries on the Amherst Lancers Tech Club’s Facebook page. Additionally, you can listen to their interview with VA Talk Radio Network, where they talk about the effects of the tornado and their “Beyond the Storm” project.

Reflecting on his experience helping his community after the tornado, Hayden expressed his gratitude for DPGS. He recently wrote to us:

I’ve been able to put drone skills to good use more quickly than I imagined. I wanted to let you know your scholarship for training is being put to good use — not just for profit, but to help our neighbors and community.

-Carl Hayden, DPGS Student and Scholarship Recipient

A round of applause is in order for Hayden and all the members of Amherst Lancers Tech Club who have been a part of the “Beyond the Storm” project. It’s the type of drones for good story we want to hear more of.

Apply for the Drone Pilot Ground School High School Scholarship

At DPGS, we celebrate the opportunity to provide high school students like Hayden with scholarships to our online training course. The course prepares students to take the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Aeronautical Knowledge Test for their Part 107 / Remote Pilot Certification.

High School Scholarship Online Drone Training

Scholarship recipients are awarded free access to the course ($299 value), which includes 70+ video/text lectures, five practice tests, instructor support, and lifetime access to the course. Over 11,000 students have already trained through DPGS and go on to take the FAA Aeronautical Knowledge Test with a 99% pass rate.

High school students are encouraged to apply for the DPGS High School STEM Scholarship for Aspiring Commercial Drone Pilots. Eligible students must be 1) at least 16 years old, 2) currently enrolled in high school, and 3) living in the U.S.

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