In 2016 Sgt. Tony Reid, was a corrections officer at Rikers Island, a jail in New York City, working with incarcerated adolescents 16 to 18 years old. For 8 long years, he witnessed first-hand the plight of young men of color who became the casualties of an environment of poverty, crime, and violence. Many bright young men became ensnared in a life cycle of neglect, drugs, and crime; spending their time either on the street or behind bars. Either place could lead to dangerously grave consequences.
He began to imagine a way out for these young people and decided he wanted to do something to break the chain.
It was in August of the same year that the FAA created the first-ever Remote Pilot Certification* for civilian Unmanned Aerial Systems (UASs). Sgt. Reid received his certification in September of 2016 and his drone career took off.
Sgt. Reid founded DroneTECH UAS and the concept of Drone Cadets was born. He began doing workshops, demonstrations, and hands-on drone flight training for kids. It wasn't long before he was invited into local schools and began helping incorporate drones into their STEM curriculums.
Whenever kids asked about becoming a drone pilot, he talked to kids about the narrow road that they must follow to stay in school, learn and reach success in life.
In 2017 Sgt. Reid partnered with DroneBlocks to expand his curriculum to include coding. He also began his worldwide mission, bringing drones to hurricane disaster-ridden countries like the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, and Curacao. While there he worked to help provide relief, conduct infrastructure inspections, and he brought a needed distraction to children devastated by loss. He taught them to fly!