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Warriors Reach New Heights as Drone Pilots

The sky is the limit for a group of wounded warriors in North and South Carolina who recently finished training to become commercial drone pilots.

The veterans received instruction on remote drone planning and flying techniques as part of the Warriors to Work® program at Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP). In addition to online and in-person training, warriors had the opportunity to test for and obtain their drone pilot license from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

“The training has certainly given me a task and purpose again,” said Army veteran John Swanson. “Wounded Warrior Project gave us an opportunity to get in on the front door of something that’s pretty exciting and maybe can get us a step ahead.”

Opportunities for drone pilots continue to rise. According to the FAA, more than 220,000 remote drone pilots are now certified with the government agency, and that number is expected to increase as drones become more valuable to the operations and efficiency of several industries.

Applications for commercial drone pilots include defense, emergency medical services, telecommunications, real estate, construction, oil and gas, events and entertainment, and sanitation, among others. By 2025, the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International estimates there will be more than 100,000 new drone pilot jobs — a trend WWP is closely monitoring.

“Wounded Warrior Project is consistently seeking innovative solutions to connect veterans with employment opportunities that will excite them as much now as they were in the military,” said Bryan Rollins, director of WWP’s Warriors to Work program. “There is so much promise for the warriors who are pursuing this career path. We look forward to seeing where their journeys go from here.”

Drone pilots could be in even more demand following the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Bryan Bayges, president and CEO of Innovative Technology Holdings, a company that helped facilitate the WWP training for the warriors. People are becoming more receptive to alternative ways of procuring a good or service, so at-home delivery via drone is becoming a more realistic option.

“Drones are really being considered as a form of transportation to get goods and services to the end consumer,” Bryan said. “There are lots of laws and regulations that still need to be developed. But all signs point to that’s where we’re heading.”

As the drone industry continues to grow and evolve, WWP will be there to support the warriors pursuing this unique career path. Beyond this first training on the East Coast, WWP plans to offer similar opportunities to warriors in other parts of the country. For more information about the nonprofit’s career counseling efforts, click here.  

Contact: Jon Blauvelt — Public Relations, jblauvelt@woundedwarriorproject.org, 904.426.9756

About Wounded Warrior Project
Since 2003, Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) has been meeting the growing needs of warriors, their families, and caregivers — helping them achieve their highest ambition. Learn more.

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