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Aviation schools prepare for boom in drone jobs

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By DAVE KOLPACK
Associated Press

GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) - Hundreds of student pilots across the nation are preparing for jobs that don't exist yet in aviation's newest, most promising field: flying drones.

Instead of training as cargo or airline pilots, many students are learning to fly unmanned aircraft, enrolling in new programs at the University of North Dakota, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Kansas State.

The market for drone operators is expected to boom after more drones become legal to fly in U.S. airspace, which could happen in the next few years.

Drones are best known for their use by the U.S. military, but other markets beckon, such as using unmanned aircraft in agriculture, law enforcement and search-and-rescue operations.

Enrollment in North Dakota's unmanned aircraft degree program grew from just five students in 2009 to 120 last year.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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