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Drone Informational Day Announced

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Commercial drone sales are skyrocketing nationally. Locally, this combined hobby and sport is gaining momentum with the help of summer camps, a new degree program at Mohawk Valley Community College, and now, a new drone community called CNY Drones. The group will host a Drone Informational Day, October 1, 2016 at the Griffiss International Airport in Rome, NY in cooperation with Oneida County. CNY Drones invites the general public to a morning of learning, sharing and drone information for students and adults involved in or wishing to get involved in this new high-tech activity. Demonstrations of various drones, information on future STEM-based activities and team formation assistance will be available from 9:00am to 12:00pm inside Building 785, Bomber Drive, off Ellsworth Road. 


Ryan Payne (left) flying a Phantom 4 as Steve Pemberton and Joel Winnicki of Pemberton Raceworks look on.

All ages groups are invited to participate in the Saturday morning event. Team growth plans will center around encouraging older students and adults to mentor younger counterparts. The informal volunteer group is currently made up of local drone enthusiasts, educators, drone manufacturers, sponsors, engineers from the Air Force Research Lab, government suppliers, Griffiss Airport officials and the Griffiss Institute. The committee meets monthly to discuss plans to make drone events a regular addition to existing area STEM activities. College and high school tech clubs, scout troops, and other community-based clubs can easily pick up the sport. The group also sees drones as another way to keep sports teams working together through a non-related, off- season activity.

CNY Drones was started by Lisa & Bob Payne, 8 year coaches of a local student robotics team, the RoboSpartans. With the encouragement the Griffiss Institute and the Carbone Auto Group, they’re bringing together local interest groups to develop a coordinated approach to promoting STEM through the use of drones. The majority of the Payne’s RoboSpartans Robotics team recently aged-out of FIRST Tech Challenge high school robotics. Remaining local members continue to meet regularly as a STEM club, working on drones and 3d printing projects. 

“We’re applying our experience with growing robotics to creating sustainable drone- based STEM activities,” says CNY Drones Volunteer Administrator, Lisa Payne. “We had an immediate need with our team ready to do something new, drones already in use and others under construction. Anyone who watched us over the years knows how committed we are to the success of STEM events. I’m pleased that local STEM and drone interests came together so quickly,” Payne added. 


RoboSpartans Ryan Payne and Timothy Ha share mini-drones at the 2016 Boilermaker Expo

Payne established CNY Drones social media presence, where she intends to have the group help build a central hub of information and contacts. Through their monthly committee meetings, CNY Drones will continue to connect organizations willing to champion various subsections of activity including safety information, support, formal educational & employment opportunities, camps, workshops, competitions and meet- ups.

Clubs, engineering groups and businesses with drone interests are welcome to join the event by contacting CNY Drones. For more information and a map to the Drone Informational Day, email:

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