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June 14, 2024 June 14, 2024

Lots of community partner volunteers came out for Drone Games 2024

Posted on June 6, 2024 by Ryan Dahlman
Commentator/Courier Photo Submitted AIR TIIMES: Eric Stock (right) who graduated from the Flight Academy last year and came out to volunteer at Drone Games, tests a drone with Co-lead of the Academy Katelyn Rozdeba looking on.

By Samantha Johnson
Prairie Rose Public Schools Content Writer

The third annual Drone Games took place at Eagle Butte High School on Monday, May 27. Each year, the number of participants keeps growing with a record number turning out for the 2024 event.

Dana Marshall, Flight Academy Lead and Drone Games organizer said, “82 competitors from across Prairie Rose Public Schools (PRPS), as well as 3 adult competitors enjoyed demonstrating their skills in friendly competition. This event demonstrates our community connection, while also giving students skills that would take them into the unmanned systems world. Medicine Hat is home to several RPAS companies, like Qinetiq and Landing Zones. Along with our friends at the Foremost UAS, Apex, and others, Prairie Rose students are ready to “launch” into the world of remote piloting.”

Trustee Patty Rooks, who has a son interning at the Foremost UAS Test Range this summer, dropped by the Games as she feels they are an important learning opportunity for all students across PRPS.

“They have so many applications beyond the military, and we need our students to have that cutting edge technology,” stated Rooks. “It’s wonderful to see the support and connections we are building with the community. Medicine Hat is one of the largest innovators in Canada by bringing these organizations to our communities and getting them to work here. Why not utilize the resources we have and bring them to our students? Let them see those opportunities we have so we can continue to train our students but bring them back after postsecondary to keep our communities vibrant, that’s really important.”

Captain John Tarnowski was stationed at the Circle Fly competition along with other soldiers from Canadian Forces Base Suffield. He saw an advertisement at the base about volunteers being needed for Drone Games and, as he works in signals, it applied.

“I asked my soldiers if anyone wanted to do this and stand outside in the sun for the day. We had three or four come out and a few from different trades as well, so a nice turnout,” explained Tarnowski. He also added they came to, “engage with young people who are learning about new technology and to show them the military uses this technology just like the rest of Canadian society does.”

Sterling Cripps from Landing Zones, a company that is developing a drone for collecting weather data, was involved with the drone industry for the past 20 years and has a vested interest in training.

“I did the training with the kids here last year for their drone course and was asked to come back and help out as a volunteer, which I’m happy to do,” said Cripps. “I like seeing young people get involved in this technology. It’s complex, it’s not easy and it takes commitment and dedication to get good at it and understand it’s full potential. In Drone Games we are working with young children and adults and it’s going well. They’ve put on a good show here and the volunteer corps is very strong and it’s nice to see and do.”

Eric Stock graduated from Eagle Butte High School last year and earned his private pilot’s license about two weeks into the summer. He immediately began working on his commercial license, which he hopes to have by November of this year and will then begin his instructor rating. Dana Marshall from the Flight Academy has remained in contact with Stokes and is continuing to support him as he pursues training toward a career in the aviation industry, which his how he ended up volunteering at Drone Games this year.

“Aviation has so many doors to it, there are so many opportunities within it beside just flying if one is interested. One door opens and there are seven others in front of you, there are so many opportunities,” said Stock. “I think the games going well. We have a bunch of wonderful volunteers out today, if they have a problem with their drone or the batteries aren’t working, I’m there to see what I can do to help them out.”

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