Lanett JROTC introduces drones project

Published 10:30 am Saturday, February 4, 2023

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Starting this semester, Lanett High School’s Junior ROTC program has introduced UAV drones to its curriculum. For a week, students had the opportunity to learn how to operate drones both in and out of the classroom. 

The new curriculum was funded by a $5,000 grant from the state of Alabama. As part of the curriculum, Senior Army Instructor Col. Chris McKinney was provided instructional materials, small indoor practice drones and one full-sized camera-equipped drone. 

Students began instruction by using a drone simulator on their Chromebooks. This way, they began to learn the controls. From there, the students moved on to small indoor drones that could be flown around the classroom. 

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“We had the small ones that you can fly on the inside, so you begin to get a feel for how to operate them,” McKinney said.

After they got comfortable flying, it was time to go outside and practice with the larger outdoor drone provided. McKinney and his students flew the drone around the field and took photos from the other side of the building. 

The drone project is another hands-on activity added to the JROTC program recently. The program has seen many developments in the past year. McKinney and Army Instructor SFC Terrence Staples also developed the Air Rifle/Marksmanship project into the program for certified, upper-level cadets. The project gives qualified students practice with their marksmanship using the most advanced air rifle in the industry. 

“The superintendent told me when she hired me — ‘Colonel McKinney, I want that program to be fun,’” McKinney said.