Almost 3 million commercial drones are coming……

…… and commercial drone pilots are now needed in our region. On the Oregon coast our main income source (not associated with the seasonal tourist trade) is from the marine service sector, which is beginning to use drones in a big way.


Here on the Oregon coast is a national center of marine research with NOAA, OSU/Hatfield Center, and Oregon Fish and Wildlife that have based their coastal and nearshore research efforts.

noaaosu hatfield 1odfw

Our 9th – 12th grade students at Career Tech Charter High School are partnering and collaborating with some of the researchers at these institutions. These scientists have become our teachers while we work side-by-side with them doing marine research, including:

  • Monitoring protected and endangered marine species and their habitats
  • Supporting assessments of fisheries stocks and habitat assessments
  • Monitoring effects of climate change, coastal erosion and sea level rise
  • Monitoring sea grass and marsh health




12th Grade Courses: Coastal Resource Management Projects 1 and 2 (Fall and Spring Terms)

Our fourth year class follows a research-based education module that involves students working on longer-term projects directly with industry partners, building on their knowledge of drones and how they apply directly to their coastal habitat missions.


At this point our pilots have mastered flight platforms, sensors, and aircraft, have their FAA 107 commercial pilots licenses, their USI Safety Certificate, have demonstrated proficiency in drone flight, and have a strong logbook reflecting PIC (pilot in command) time on our most advanced sUAS technologies.

Many of our students have now mastered big data and aerial data management software, and realize a commercial drone pilot is required to manage data and software, that the client often needs their data managed (in addition to being collected).

11th Grade Courses: Advanced Coastal Drone Missions 1 and 2 (Fall and Spring Terms)

Our third year pilots have a log book beginning to bulge with commercial flight time. This year they are assigned the task of carrying out two kinds of missions. The first kind of mission is aerial photography for local city and watershed managers.  Students learn to program and use these flight platforms in this operations course.

The second type of mission is the study of fisheries and wildlife distribution where we conduct low altitude, precision flying, aerial photography, and videography revolving around the programming of an autopilot program called Litchi. We focus on whales and salmon.

This course introduces students to advanced unmanned aerial systems (UAS) mission planning and operation, as they progress to higher level simulation and mission planning/ execution. Lab/Field: Student teams launch, recover and maintain advanced Unmanned Aerial Systems. Current projects are underway and planned in coastal erosion, estuarine mapping, salmon spawning grounds mapping, coastal forestry, and construction management mapping.




10th Grade Course: Coastal Drone Operations 1 and 2 (Fall and Spring Terms)


This class starts with a nationally recognized curriculum called the Unmanned Safety Institute Safety Course.  This course introduces students to UAS operations using quadcopter including DJI Phantom 4ps which takes students past consumer drones (toys) to “prosumer” or  professional drones for the first time. They continue to explore integration and application of UAS resources in United States airspace. They focus on building and executing simulated operations in a non- combative environment. The content includes the second half of Part 107 ground school instruction. Each student is issued a ready to fly drone which is used to create orthophoto, topographic, vegetation, and 3D aerial maps while following lesson plans in radio communications, performance, physiological factors, decision making, airport operations, maintenance and preflight procedures.

9th Grade Course: Introduction to Coastal Drones 1 and 2 (Fall and Spring Terms)

Career Tech HS students and drone crew chief flying obstacle course with Phantom 3 at Lincoln City ball parkThis course introduces students to unmanned aerial systems (UAS) and surveys current UAS platforms, sensors, terminology, challenges to integrating UAS to the national airspace system and operations under FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) regulations for small unmanned aircraft (Part 107). Content includes first half of Part 107 ground school instruction.

MavicLab: Students are issued an RTF (ready to fly) drone trainer and learn to fly them using lesson plans in airspace, weather, performance, loading, emergency procedures, and crew resource management.

Field trips are planned to an airport, a tower, a flight museum, and a flight service center. All other field hours are dedicated to flying drones and building logged hours.