Unique program at Pascagoula-Gautier district creates ready-to-go drone pilots

Updated: Apr. 19, 2021 at 2:54 PM CDT
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GAUTIER, Miss. (WLOX) -The weather has certainly improved for licensed drone pilots like those in the Pascagoula-Gautier School District.

Students in the district’s Unmanned Aerial Systems program are reaching new professional heights by flying drones, much like the one Caleb Jackson flew for the city of Pascagoula’s recreational sports complex. The Pascagoula High School senior put an entire video together from the footage he shot.

“Basically the job was to get some overheads of the new sports complex,” Jackson said.

The program’s based at Gautier High School. Jackson and eight others have already earned their FAA Part 107 licenses, which means they can fly drones and make money doing it.

“We’re the first ones in the state to offer this program to students,” said David Weigle, UAS instructor. “I teach the students all the rules and regulations and teach them to fly safely and ethically. It goes without saying getting to come out and break free from the traditional classroom setting.”

For Gautier junior Marleigh Eekhof, being a drone pilot is kind of in her blood.

“I come from a family of aviators, so unmanned aerial systems, that’s just kind of a natural way to go,” Eekhof said.

They told WLOX what’s also natural and normal about this program is the trial and error of flight.

Caleb Jackson was flying a radio-controlled plane for us when things went upside down and out.

“When I pulled up, it went down,” Jackson said. “It’s all part of learning.”

In Jackson’s defense, it’s the first time he’s flown that plane in six months, so don’t doubt his skills or the work of his fellow students as they reach for the sky through this growing profession.

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