GIBSON CITY, Ill. — For growers who are actively interested in Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), but aren't quite sure how to learn more about them, the First Flight Initiative will be their go-to resource. The goal of Crop Copter's launch of this new component of their business is to exceed in the education and training for farmers on UAV ownership, maintenance, operations, abilities and outcomes from the use of these drones.

Matt Barnard, owner and founder of Crop Copter, is a farmer himself in central Illinois. He had big dreams of starting this business to help local producers become educated on the confusing industry of UAVs. Since the company was founded in 2013, the business has met his expectations and more. Growing from catering to local producers, to now assisting customers all over the country. He expects that the launch of the First Flight Initiative will not only clear up the confusion, but take another giant leap in educating farmers on UAVs.

"Just because technology is new, doesn't mean there needs to be a huge learning curve to understand it," Barnard states. "There are too many incidents of companies and people taking advantage of misinformation. We want to help growers evaluate UAV needs for their own operations, show them how to incorporate the technology and help set proper expectations."

Taking advantage of the First Flight Initiative effort by Crop Copter has no cost. This resource hub is full of information of firsts for producers taking part in this new technology. The user doesn't have to be an expert or even have experience to gain from the information that is included in the First Flight Initiative. Training videos, helpful tips, support and repair offerings and links to blogs in the industry can all be found within this effort. 

"This information was not all in one place until now," Barnard explains. "Regardless of whether growers buy from Crop Copter or somewhere else, we want them (producers) to be better-informed buyers and have realistic expectations of what they're purchasing."

Part 107 effective Aug. 29, 2016 by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Part 107 allows the use of drones for commercial use without the Section 333 Exemption. Essentially, you will not need a pilot's license to fly the UAV, the Part 107 takes the place of this. Crop Copter has been able to partner with Parkland College in Champaign, Ill., to help make this launch of the First Flight Initiative to go over as smooth as possible. They are offering a 2 day training class to help people interested in UAVs to obtain their Part 107.