When I was a kid, I remember taking a couple of mechanical airplanes out to the farmers field by my parents’ house in rural Ontario and zipping them through the blue skies.

My little brother, my dad and I were out with family friends and were racing them haphazardly, without a care in the world.

There was something exhilarating about sitting in the pilot’s seat – or, at least behind the remote.

Where we lived, we were far from any airport and many people. There was no one around in those fields but us, the grass and some trees.

Yet, somehow, I doubt we would be able to fly those toy planes feeling as carefree today.

Since then, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have skyrocketed in popularity and, with that, regulations for flying drones have been racing to catch up.

Everyone and their mother seems to have a drone these days and they’re becoming more affordable for the average citizen.

Now Transport Canada has started to crack its whip, announcing stricter rules in March for people looking to fly drones recreationally.

Those who fly them for commercial or research purposes are also required to have certification, according to Transport Canada.

From Sept. 12 to 14, Aurora College hosted its first ground school course in Inuvik for people looking to strengthen their understanding of how to fly drones safely in an airspace shared with other aircraft.

Organizers suggested the course may not be the last, and that’s good news.

When the federal government announced its new rules for recreational drones in March, a news release stated that “the number of incidents involving recreational drones has more than tripled since 2014,” and that their use has increased safety risks.

Students in the Inuvik course were interested in using their drones for a variety of different reasons – from commercial photography and videography to racing them for fun – but they all wanted to ensure they were operating legally and safely.

Especially in a town like Inuvik, with an active airspace situated close to the community, it’s important people follow the rules.

Not only will more ground school courses make our skies safe for everyone by educating people about safe flying practices, it could open the door for local business opportunities.

At least one person in the course said they’ve received requests for drone photography and video work around town.

By completing the ground school, they said, they’re one step closer to having the knowledge and certification they need to eventually sell their work.

Here’s hoping there will be more ground school training to come in the North.

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