West Ottawa High School students pilot new drone

Posted at 6:45 PM, Oct 13, 2015

HOLLAND, Mich. – West Ottawa High School has a new high tech tool that’s helping with everything from robotics to yearbook club. Students are piloting a DJI Inspire drone, which they debuted at homecoming.

Principal Todd Tulgestke said the school’s robotics team, broadcast network team, student senate, and the yearbook team each pitched in to buy the drone,  spending between $3,000 to $4,000 from their budgets this fall.

"This is a part of something we like to do here by giving students a voice, and it's up to our students to be creative with it,” said Tulgestke.

It takes a two-person team to fly the drone: one looking up controlling the drone, and the other focusing on the camera’s eye view.

“You can't be separated you can't have anybody between you,” said junior Zack Neitzel as he flew the drone. "You always have to be communicating, knowing when you're going to go."

The drone even has its own Twitter account ,  the WO Drone.

The video is unbelievably stable.

“It'll adjust to the wind,” Neitzel said. “We actually had it at the football game. It was like 20 mile-per-hour winds, but it was staying in the same spot. It was applying 20 miles per hour back at the wind."

The students are using the drone in a partnership between various student groups, and the high definition video will be used throughout the school.

"They're dealing with adult rules and regulations, learning some FAA information, it's really almost limitless,” said Norma Lamotte, Robotics Team 141 Wobot coach and math teacher at West Ottawa High School.

Students are flying within FAA regulations, flying under 400 feet, and, because the school is within five miles of Park Township Airport, they needed and received written permission to fly their drone on school grounds.