The drone school “Female Pilots of Ukraine” teaches women how to fly drones to help win the war against the Russian aggressors.
The new drone school, which started in Kyiv in August, is teaching Ukrainian women how to fill an important new role: that of a drone operator.
The Female Pilots of Ukraine is the nation's first institution solely focused on instructing women, both civilians, and members of Ukraine's security forces, how to operate unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).
Drones have been used by both the Russian and Ukrainian militaries in the conflict in Ukraine for attacking, providing coordinates, and reconnaissance.
The administrators of the drone school claim that although there are many women in the Ukrainian military, they hardly ever fly drones.
One of the school's first students and a seven-year Police veteran, Tatyana Kuznetsova, says, “We all realize that this is a war of the 21st century.” To gain new skills “just in case,” she decided to sign up for the free classes.
Drone school “Female Pilots of Ukraine”
Kuznetsova and her four classmates practice flying drones during class by working in pairs as a pilot and a navigator.
They follow a set of instructions, performing actions such as turning on the controller and checking the batteries before sending the off-the-shelf drones airborne, NPR reports.
“A good drone pilot must be a virtuoso in working with maps,” instructor Mykyta Kosov says.
Kosov has been operating drones for almost two years, the last eight of which he spent working for the Ukrainian military. In today's conflict, he explained, being able to fly drones is a crucial skill.
“Using drones, we get intelligence data and can watch the situation on the front lines more effectively,” he says.
Kosov is among the numerous educators at the Female Pilots of Ukraine drone school. Each class, which lasts three to four weeks, depending on the level, combines classroom instruction with field training.
Students can, if they choose, use their new skills in the Ukrainian military, according to Valeriy Borovyk, the founder of the drone school.
“I was very surprised that 80% of our students want to go to [the front line],” Borovyk said.
Borovyk claims that months ago while attempting to assist a friend who was trying to make contact with a female drone pilot for a feminist organization in the UK, he became aware of the need for more women drone pilots.
Women from all walks of life enroll in the drone classes, Borovyk explained.
He says that 40 people have applied to the school for the next course cycle. Ten people have already graduated from the school.
But according to Borovyk, operating the Female Pilots of Ukraine drone school costs more than $3,000 per month.
The school could use more money to pay for instructors, drones, and other supplies since it doesn't receive any government money and has no significant donors.
Borovyk currently covers the cost of the budget out of his own pocket with the aid of gifts from students' friends, family members, and other sources.
“Our military sector needs many, many pilots. We need it now,” Borovyk says, according to NPR. “I hope we will win next year, but we must be prepared for many years.”
Let us know what you think of the use of drones in the Russia-Ukraine conflict in the comments below. We are curious to hear your thoughts.
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