Contrary to popular belief, these vehicles aren’t called “drones” among professionals.
“We call them unmanned air vehicles,” said Walter Krupnak, an engineer and tech consultant with the Center for Interdisciplinary Remotely Piloted Aircraft Studies (CIRPAS) who lives in Klamath Falls. “These are big, big guys — the predator types.”
Krupnak has served in the U.S. Navy, worked for General Electric and continues to do consulting work since his retirement in 2005. As a former operator of a flight school, he even continues to train civilian pilots.
Though it’s fundamental that the individual have an interest in flying or piloting, whether it’s for commercial reasons or to join into military service themselves.
“I don’t want to get too involved unless it’s (with) the right people,” he said.
Krupnak’s work, which now continues with CIRPAS, has been with military organizations and helping them learn how to use the electronic systems in UAVs.
“I mainly design electronic packages that go into these unmanned aircraft,” Krupnak said.
As a research center and part of the Naval Postgraduate School, CIRPAS helps train individuals who want to use UAV equipment. Their research on storms and weather monitoring has been sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the Office of Naval Research and other organizations since 1996, according to the official CIRPAS website.
During his own time in service decades ago, Krupnak visited South America, the Middle East and the Philippines. Even in retirement, he still goes back and forth between Klamath Falls and California where he does consultant work.
One of his most proud accomplishments during his years of service was when he received a letter of commendation and a $5,000 award for enhancing UAV technology even further.
“I designed a video transmitter to transmit the video from the UAV up to a satellite, down through another satellite system down to Washington, D.C.,” Krupnak said.
Michael Sheets, Krupnak’s current student and a nurse practitioner who works in Merrill and Bonanza, said he has wanted to fly for most of his life, but never got around to it.
“I just decided it was now or never,” Sheets said. “I’ve been here 22 years and I haven’t seen much of the area because I work six days a week.”
Sheets has enjoyed his learning experiences so far, and said it makes it much easier to travel across Oregon. In addition, flying allows him to visit his daughter more frequently, who lives in Portland.
“It’s an exhilarating feeling to get up the air,” Sheets said. “It’s like being a kid all over again.”
Alan is serial entrepreneur, active angel investor, and a drone enthusiast. He co-founded DRONELIFE.com to address the emerging commercial market for drones and drone technology. Prior to DRONELIFE.com, Alan co-founded Where.com, ThinkingScreen Media, and Nurse.com. Recently, Alan has co-founded Crowditz.com, a leader in Equity Crowdfunding Data, Analytics, and Insights. Alan can be reached at alan(at)dronelife.com