One of the things I love most about aviation is that we have not even come close to reaching the ceiling of what we can do. What is very interesting about aviation just over 100 years after man achieved powered flight is that we are now removing the man from the cockpit. While we will not likely remove the pilot completely from the cockpit in my lifetime, it is fascinating to see the developments in unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs.
One of the most important aspects of any developing industry is the education and training available to help the industry grow. Like much of the rest of the aviation industry, much of the training for UAVs comes from the military, and filters to other organizations, to include the civilian sector. Now the civilian sector is developing its own education and training, to include college degrees.
The newly formed Middle Georgia State College is developing a UAV certification program that they hope will set the stage for the college being selected as one of six UAV commercial use test sites in the US. The college has already received two certificates of authorization to fly and test their own UAVs, and expects to receive three more this year.
The local newspaper in middle Georgia, The Telegraph, wrote an interesting article about the many uses of UAV technology that the school has already experimented with. Many people are aware of the military, police, and border security use of UAVs, but they have also proven to be valuable assets in the agricultural industry. They can be used to make crop dusting more efficient and effective through analyzing the crops and only applying pesticides where they are needed.
This is just one more example of the many applications of aviation that were likely never considered by the Wright Brothers over 100 years ago. While there will continue to be opposition from pilots who don’t want to leave the cockpit, UAVs will clearly play a vital role in the future of aviation as the training and education continues to improve.