Brookfield Academy offering students a chance to take flight with summer drone course

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BROOKFIELD, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Middle and high school students looking for some summer school fun will have the chance to learn the rules of the sky at Brookfield Academy this summer.

The school will be offering "Drone Zone" as a part of its annual Summer Days Program, offering students like Neil D'Souza and Audrey Brickman the chance to take flight.

"I have a drone of my own and I haven't really known how to fly it," said D'Souza, a sixth grader at Brookfield Academy. "I think it's going to be pretty fun."

Brickman, a seventh grader at Brookfield Academy, agreed with her younger Drone Zone classmate.

"Just being able to control one and actually fly it," Brickman said. "I've never done that before so I think it will be pretty cool."

The course is taught by Michael Burckle, who has taught chess at Brookfield Academy for several years. He presented the school with the idea for the class with the hope of being able to educate the kids and introduce them to the world of drone technology and all the possibilities it can present.

"There are many career paths in the drone industry," Burckle explained. "Starting out with drones, actually, is a good stepping stone to these other careers in aviation."

Students participating in the course get classroom and hands-on training on how to safely operate drones in the sky. Students over the age of 14 are then able to take the Federal Aviation Administration's Part 107 Drone Exam. Those 16 and older are able to get a drone license.

"This is a prep course," Burckle explained. "The course itself is rather difficult. A lot of the students are going to find this work difficult, but they will learn and there is no prior knowledge needed."

The latest drone numbers from the FAA show there are 855,860 drones registered in the United States. Of those drones, 316,075 are registered commercially while 536,183 are registered for recreational use. A total of 3,602 are paper registrations.

There are 277,845 certified remote pilots while 255,476 completion certificates of The Recreational UAS Safety Test (TRUST) have been issued. The TRUST test provides education and testing for recreational flyers on important safety and regulatory information. If you fly a drone recreationally, you must pass the test before you fly.

"It's a good course to take because whatever they pay in tuition is a small fraction of going out, buying a drone and then, 'I don't really care for this anymore' and it goes up in the closet and sits there and they have to try and sell it," Burckle said. "This, you can try before you buy."

There is currently a wait list for the course, the Brookfield Academy is looking into offering another session if there is enough interest. The cost of the course is $225.

The course is open to kids grades 6-12. You do not have to be a Brookfield Academy student to participate. You can find more information HERE.

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