A presenter at the Saco center of the University of Maine at Augusta’s Aviation Studies program takes about UMA’s drone program on July 14. Coley Hatt photo

SACO – The University of Maine at Augusta’s Aviation Studies program has been hosting drone flying demonstrations and educational sessions about them at several of its facilities across the state.

Recently, it held an event on July 14 at its Saco Center located on 4 Scammon St. The UMA Aviation Studies program’s purpose in holding these events is to educate Mainers about Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), better known as drones or remotely piloted aircrafts. The Saco Center Director Daniel Philbriek, Edward P. Cormier, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) New England Region Aviation and Space Education Program Analyst and University of Maine at Augusta’s Director of UAS Education and Research and retired Air Force veteran Daniel M. LeClair, were all in attendance. The versatile uses of drones were on display, including but not limited to Photography, Accident Prevention, Construction, Agriculture, and Law Enforcement.

Through the use of drones and other unmanned aircraft, LeClair said, “some of the tasks we are doing with other tools will be automated using remotely piloted aircraft.”

“The Jetsons will be here in 25 years.” Cormier said playfully.

These showings by UMA hope to explain the different course offerings for non-credit, credit, certificate, and early college courses at UMA in relation to UAS and Aviation. This includes the Bachelor of Science in Aviation and the Minor in UAS offered by the university.

“There’s just not enough drone pilots,” LeClair said. Through the UMA program, he said, “we train people for these well paying jobs they can do here in Maine.”


“Many jobs” are avialable in the industry, LeClaire said, “such as manned and unmanned pilots, aviation maintenance techs fixing these aircraft, flight attendents, grounds people, schedulers, air traffic controllers, & regulators. All are in short supply and we need to recruit and train people for these jobs.”

A drone on display at a presentation on July 14 in Saco about the University of Maine Augusta’s drone program. Coley Hatt

Cormier said the FAA is currently attempting to assist in making drone piloting more accessible to high schools around the country.

The presentation also explained how individuals and organizations are using drones and what the future of the industry holds. For example, the UMO Civil Engineering Department and the UMA Aviation Department had previously collaborated on a municipal project for the City of Augusta.

Presenters noted that there are steep fines for those who are unlicensed, untrained, and unsafe with drones. Each Civil Violation can net a fine up to $32,666, with Criminal Violation convictions going up to $250,000 and three years in jail. However, while sanctions can be assessed on the pilot, company or agency, it is best to follow the FAA regulations and avoid them altogether. The presentations closed with a Q&A session, followed by flying demonstrations of UMA’s aircraft.

UMA has planned more showings of this technology and its aircrafts at 1 to 4 p.m. July 25 at its Ellsworth Center, 9 a.m. to noon July 27 at its Rumford Center, 2 to 5 p.m. July 27 at its Lewiston Center, 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m. Aug. 3 at its Bangor campus, 1 to 4 p.m. Aug. 4 at its Houlton Center, 9 a.m. to noon Aug. 5 at its East Millinocket Center, and noon to 3 p.m. Sept. 9 at its Brunswick Center. For more information on UMA or UAS and aviation technology visit https://www.uma.edu/ and https://www.faa.gov/.

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