First drone conference held at Heartland community college - Peoria-area News, Weather, Sports

First drone conference held at Heartland community college

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Heartland Community College held the area's first drone conference Friday as the flying craft continue to prove ever more popular, and not just for personal use.

"I always say if a picture is worth a thousand words, than a drone image must be worth ten thousand," said Wendy Erikson, FAA Certified Remote Pilot.

And that's why drone usage is growing across many platforms.

"This hits on a lot of personal interests for many people, as well as success in their professions and their occupations," said Kelli Hill, Continuing Education and Advancement V.P.

When the Washington tornado hit in 2013 -- drones were relatively new -- and still largely experimental

But drone enthusiast Josh Lillie had a new drone and decided to get a first look at the destruction.

"People weren't even able to get into the town, and we were able to put our drone up, and hours after the disaster happened. A bird's eye view," Josh Lillie, FAA Certified Remote Pilot.

Since then, drones have continued to take flight after natural disasters.

State Farm drone pilot Brian Harvey spoke at Friday's event on the importance of drone use before, after and even during natural disasters.

"A really good use-case for drones during a natural disaster would be a wildfire. There have been hikers that have been found with drones," Brian Harvey, Lead Drone Test Pilot

A recent natural disaster where drones proved effective was for the responses to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

Here in the midwest, some of nature's most common impacts include wind damage, flooding and hail damage.

Harvey says those are all examples of how drones can help customers more quickly.

"So from an insurance stand-point, after a tornado lets say, you can deploy your catastrophe resources a little more efficiently," Harvey said.

"The applications of drone use are limitless. We've just scratched the surface of what's out there and what's to come," said Wendy Erikson, FAA Certified Remote Pilot.

There are a lot of safety rules and regulations that come along with drones.

To fly commercially, you need a certification from the FAA.

 And some of the commercial uses the conference touched on include agriculture and aerial event coverage.

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