Be prepared in the near future when you gaze into the blue skies to perceive a whole series of strange-looking things – no, they will not be birds, nor planes, or even superman. They may be temporarily, and in some cases startlingly mistaken as UFOs, given their bizarre and ominous appearance. But, in due course, they will become recognized as valuable objects of a new era of human-made flying machines, intended to serve a broad range of missions and objectives. Many such applications are already incorporated and well entrenched in serving essential functions for extending capabilities in our vital infrastructures such as transportation, utilities, the electric grid, agriculture, emergency services, and many others. Rapidly advancing technologies have made possible the dramatic capabilities of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV/drones) to uniquely perform various functions that were inconceivable a mere few years ago.
While simply flying a drone is not a complicated process, operating them for surveying or disaster sites employ certain techniques that require training. In March, a drone pilot school in the city of Kai, Yamanashi Prefecture, operated by the Japan Aviation Academy, lowered the age eligible for entrance from 20 to 16. In addition to practical coaching, students at the school can learn about civil aviation and radio laws, as well as understanding sudden weather changes from the movement of clouds and wind direction. "The lessons are practical and I am learning a lot. I hope to use the skills for disaster prevention and helping people," said Tsurugi Hatano, a 16-year-old high school student in the city of Tsuru, Yamanashi.