Flight Club (Academy of Model Aeronautics)

ama.pngThe FAA allows our students to fly without their commercial drone license as long as they are a member of our club, called “Coastal Dragon Drones”. Formed in 2017, we are a nationally chartered, AMA (Academy of Model Aeronautics) club number 15101.

Our pilots are required to be members, and membership is free to those students under 18. To be eligible to be a member of Coastal Dragon Drones, you must be a student of Career Tech High School that is enrolled is in with our Drone Aeronautics, Drone Operations or Coastal Missions courses.

Our current officers are:

President: Jason Miranda, Vice President: Matt Novi, Faculty Mentor: Dr. Chuck Getter

If you are a current or new student at Career Tech High School, contact one of our officers to become a member.



The Academy…

includes flight training (at sea) for senior pilots, shown below is the OSU R/V Pacific Storm on station five miles off Newport, deploying a drone for flight training for Coastal Drone Academy pilots in April 2018.

My training and certification program uses a curriculum accepted by the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA), endorsed by major aviation insurance providers, and evaluated and recommended for college credit by the American Council on Education. The program is built on a comprehensive ground and flight school using Unmanned Safety Institute curriculum with its aviation emphasis.


My courses work through experiential, hands-on learning, and collaboration with local marine scientists, my pilots fly missions where they develop knowledge of the several key aspects of coastal resource management. I use a research-based education that involves students working on longer-term projects directly with industry and government collaborators, building on their knowledge of drones and how they apply directly to their coastal habitat missions. Through research-based learning students can develop the intellectual skills of critical analysis and also valuable transferable skills such as group work, time- and resource-management and data handling.

Elevation (topographic map of wetlands restoration site

Actual work done by our teams includes a wetlands delineation map (above and left column bottom).

Advanced student pilots have acquired knowledge and can challenge the FAA Remote Pilot Certificate (drone license) test.

107 license


Coastal drone missions


This course helps student pilots fill their log book with commercial flight time. They are assigned the task of carrying out missions for our collaborators, including flying assignments for a university, a state agency, a water resource council, and an Indian tribe as a way to build this time.

Course mastery results in application for Drone PRO™ rating where pilots log their first 50 hours. Level of rating may increase with hours and years flown:

PRO™ Basic Certification 50 hours (specific UAS) 1 year
PRO™ Level I 250 hours 2 years
PRO™ Level II 500 hours 3 years
PRO™ Level III 1000 hours 3 years

Even our rookie pilots begin their flying career doing useful work, before flying they are visual observers, data managers, battery technicians, or site security personnel while working for our two dozen collaborators, including:

Coastal drone operations

This 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). First half content includes the first half of Part 107 ground school instruction. Field trips are planned to an airport, a tower, a flight museum, and a flight service center.

I then focus on building and executing drone field operations. Students fly a quad copter or fixed wing drone which are used to create photo mosaics, topographic, vegetation, and 3D aerial maps while following lesson plans in radio communications, performance, physiological factors, decision making, airport operations, maintenance and pre-flight procedures. In addition students experience flying a fixed wing drone over larger areas (below is a sample plan for a flight for a marsh restoration area in Yaquina Bay).

flight pathThe following areas of proficiency are taught in operations.

UAS Foundations
Robotic Aircraft
Data Links
UAS Control
Weather & Elements
UAS Applications
Rules & Regulations
Airport Operations
Human Factors
Crew Resource Management
Aeronautical Decision-making
Safety Policy
Safety Risk Management
Safety Assurance
Safety Promotion.