Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world;

indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.

– Margaret Mead

Established January 2016


CNY Drones is volunteer group and information hub promoting STEM through an annual Team Drone Challenge & introductory programs that encourage further exploration of the regional drone education & employment pipeline. 


We support the growth of the regional drone technology ecosystem starting with student & parent awareness of recreational drones at our interactive demonstrations & exhibits.  We believe that getting the technology into the hands of the student & parent is key in sparking interest.  We are here to make the connection.  We nurture interest through indoor beginner flying sessions, build workshops  – & yes – even through MultiGP races where discussions with racers & volunteers is always STEM-centered.  We use our programs to encourage participation in our annual indoor Team Drone Challenge while encouraging further exploration of regional STEM education & drone tech employment.   Our outreach is backed by a robust informational support hub that gives access to changing technology & mentor support beyond our programs.

CNY Drones efforts feed into the drone tech education & employment pipeline.

We’ve reached thousands of students & adults through our interactive demonstrations:


  • Flight Simulator Zone
  • First Person Viewing – FPV Zone
  • 3D Printing & CAD  Zone
  • Drone Display & Drone Clinic Zone




We’ve seen how economic development initiatives thrive when the future workforce is enthusiastic about technology developing in their communities.  From a student’s first time using a flight simulator to an adult’s first impression of our forward-thinking drone mentors, we’re getting a positive message out to technology-minded individuals who have the potential to get involved in regional drone tech in the not-so-distant future.


Our mentors come from various backgrounds with a common enthusiasm for drones & for developing a safe and knowledgeable drone community.   Our mentors love to fly & share freely beyond any program.    Their availability for follow-up — priceless.

All of our mentors are recreational drone pilots who fly regularly as members of the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA).   Some are 107 Certified Pilots as a part of their employment or education, although it is not a requirement for our group.

More About Our Programs   

Our Accomplishments


Sponsor Us!


We are STEM advocates.  Our Planning Committee  meets weekly either in person or via Google Hangout.  The Committee steers promotion & event planning.   We encourage participation from local drone tech organizations & appreciate their input.  Interactive demonstrations & events are scheduled for our supporters, not-for-profit entities & community benefit.  Programs further our Drones in STEM promotional objectives, help produce a safe flying community & inspire new volunteers & mentors.


CNY Drones is growing as the 1st Academy of Model Aeronautics  Model Aviation Student Club (AMA MASC) in New York State.   We encourage student groups to form drone clubs under the AMA & offer assistance in getting started.   We are also a provisional MultiGP Racing Chapter in Central New York State.  We use drone racing  to grab the attention of students & connect them to STEM.  Racers become adept at building, repairing & strategizing using the latest technology.   Our mentors are often the majority of racers at events & are ready to share their knowledge with spectators.

We partner with the SUNY Polytechnic Institute AMA University Model Aviation Student Club to promote STEM.  Our projects bring the community on campus & college students into the community.   We appreciate the continued support & commitment of SUNY engineering students.  They set a great example & help raise the bar higher at every event.




FAA Interpretation of Special Rule for Model Aircraft     (PDF)

FAA Advisory Circular 91-57A    (PDF)

Definition of Terms for Special Rule (PDF)


CNY Drones @ RoboSpartans Robotics is run under our fiscal sponsor, the Griffiss Institute,  a 501(c)(3).  RoboSpartans Robotics had an incredibly successful 8 year run as a founding team of local FIRST Tech Challenge & FIRST LEGO League programs & as 3X World Championship multi-award Finalists.  Former veteran coaches & regional STEM event coordinators initially met with drone enthusiasts, educators, government officials & drone technology company representatives monthly during 2016 to establish the direction & initial operational plan of the group.  Since then, we’ve been running programs monthly, extending our reach to inner-city & rural populations in New York State.

Want to learn more?  Contact us! 

Lisa Marie Payne, Administrator