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Drones took to the skies over the Williamsburg-Jamestown Airport recently as part of the Tidewater Virginia Drone User Group’s International Drone Day celebration.
The group of drone enthusiasts from throughout the region sought permission from the Federal Aviation Administration and the state Department of Aviation to fly drones over the airport for the May 6 event, which included demonstrations and educational outreach efforts for the public.
“The intention was to show the general public the varying types of drones – hobbyist, racing, professional and working – and their safe use by serious pilots and operators, particularly after all the bad press drones have received recently,” said James O'Neill, a member of the club.
Drone flying demonstrations were held next to the active airport runway, emphasizing the club's attention to the importance of safety. Jay Willmott, the club’s “Air Boss,” controlled the event from a raised platform, directing drone traffic and coordinating it around plane landings and take-offs.
The James City County Fire Department sent two units of spectators to the event, and several members of the general public also stopped by to learn more about the many potential uses of drones.
“New applications in the building, manufacturing, construction and many other professions are being discovered daily, and Tidewater has a broad scientific and industrial base that would benefit greatly from drone usage,” O'Neill said. “Tidewater also has the educational institutions to support the growth of drone usage. If we were able to tie these domains together efficiently, Tidewater could become the national drone application and knowledge-center.”