Classes pushing safety, profits

By: By Beth Lawrence - Staff reporter

LAURINBURG — Knowing that people may have gotten drone aircraft for the holidays, state officials and the local community college are offering safety tips and business advice.

Richmond Community College’s Small Business Center is offering a free seminar, “How to Start a Drone Business.” Participants will learn drone operation basics and the rules and regulations that apply to flying drones.

The class will be held Jan. 30, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Honeycutt Center in Laurinburg.

This three-hour workshop will also share the necessary information and skills needed to enter the drone services industry. Students can learn how to set up a legal drone business, how to obtain a commercial license to pilot a drone, different types of drone equipment and which markets are the most profitable.

Probyn Thompson, president and CEO of Air Probe, LLC, will conduct the seminar. Thompson has more than 30 years of experience in demonstrated planning, expertise and executing operations globally for both military and the private sector.

The use of drones for commercial purposes is growing at a phenomenal rate. They are being used for aerial photography, information gathering for disaster management, search and rescue operations, geographic mapping, law enforcements and border control surveillance to name a few. The worldwide market for drones is estimated to top $127 billion within the next two years.


The state Department of Aviation has also created classes for those who would like to learn what they can legally and safely do with a drone.

“Drone technology is constantly evolving, which can lead to confusion about what can and cannot be done when flying them,” officials with the department said in a press release.

The series of workshops is designed for government and commercial operators, but others are welcome. The workshops will focus on ways that drones can be used to help in areas such as emergency response, data management and newsgathering.

The first workshop is scheduled for Jan. 24 in Gaston County for public safety officials such as police, fire, EMS and other first responders.

However, a class for drone enthusiasts or anyone who plans to use drones for business purposes has been scheduled for April 13 and 14 in Naggs Head, and another is planned for late summer.

“The classes have topics for government and commercial operators, but if you are an enthusiast who is looking to get involved with drones or who is hoping to make a business of it you’re welcome to come,”said James Pearce DOT, public information officer. “People who attended the four classes we had last year really appreciated them.”

To register or check other dates, visit the Division of Aviation’s website,

The department suggests the following safety tips for recreational drones:

— Your drone must be registered on the Federal Aviation Administration’s website, even if it weighs as little as .55 pounds

— Always fly below 400 feet and within your line of sight

— Don’t fly near airports, stadiums, prisons, public events, directly over people or at night

— Don’t fly for compensation or use a drone that’s over 55 pounds.

“These are just some guidelines for recreational users to follow so they’ll be safe and within the laws on aviation regulations,” Pearce said.

Courtesy photo Building on the success of spring seminars, Richmond Community College will be offering a second round of workshops on how to operate a drone business. photo Building on the success of spring seminars, Richmond Community College will be offering a second round of workshops on how to operate a drone business.
Drone assistance offered

By Beth Lawrence

Staff reporter

Reach Beth Lawrence 910-506-3169

Reach Beth Lawrence 910-506-3169