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


CNY Drones is Central New York’s drone community promoting STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) education and safety awareness via interactive demonstrations, networking, clinics, introductory flying sessions, build & fly workshops, mentoring, team competitions, tech-meets, races, and a drone enthusiast information hub.  

Established January 2016

CNY Drones fills a gap in Central New York’s drone tech education & employment pipeline!

We know that STEM drives the advancement of Central New York industry and that mentorship provides a key mechanism for sustaining interest.  Our mentors come from various backgrounds with a common enthusiasm for drones and for developing a safe and knowledgeable drone community.  We support the growth of the regional drone technology ecosystem starting with student and adult awareness of recreational drones.  We nurture interest through beginner flying sessions and build workshops and come full circle with a robust informational support hub that gives access to changing technology and mentor support beyond our programs.

We’ve reached thousands of students and adults through our interactive demonstrations that include 5 key stations:  Flight Simulator Zone, First Person Viewing Zone, New Flyer Test Flight Zone, 3D Printing Zone and Drone Display/Drone Clinic Zone.  We’ve introduced dozens, from all age groups, to drone building, programming and flying through our workshops and flying sessions!

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 efforts in the not-so-distant future.




We’re the one’s to reach out to when you are looking to get into drones!  Check out our information and get to know our growing drone community!   We are an Academy of Model Aeronautics Model Aviation Student Club (AMA MASC), and a MultiGP Racing Chapter.


Key offerings include:

  • Live interactive demonstrations and information at community events on behalf of our sponsors
  • Indoor workshops & events that grows recreational drone ownership by providing multi-function beginner equipment and knowledge from fellow enthusiasts
  • Drone races that include STEM-based interactive demonstration areas for spectators
  • An annual indoor Team Drone Challenge to support school efforts to develop student interest in drone technology
  • Mentoring & camaraderie – we connect the Central New York drone community through our information hub, regular events and a network of mentors!
  • Our developed workshops typically have low participant to mentor ratios.  3 to 1, 2 to 1 and many times 1 to 1.    Our mentors are dedicated local drone enthusiasts and industry professionals who fly all the time, know the equipment, and have experience sharing their knowledge.   
  • Ongoing support – mentorship doesn’t end with one program!   Our mentor network shares a wealth of information beyond our programs via our website and online folders created for attendees.
  • Our programs are for ages 11+  (based on our experience with students using drone equipment)

Learn More About Our Programs   

Our Accomplishments


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

CNY Drones was founded to continue STEM promotion through emphasis on robotic flight activities.  CNY Drones is growing as the first Academy of Model Aeronautics Model Aviation Student Club (AMA MASC) in New York State and as a provisional MultiGP Racing Chapter in Central New York State.  We partner with the SUNY Polytechnic Institute AMA University Model Aviation Student Club to bring the recreational drone community and college community together.  We encourage other area student groups to form drone clubs under the AMA and offer assistance in getting started and networking opportunities.  All events through CNY Drones are STEM/STEAM centered.


CNY Drones is housed fiscally under the Griffiss Institute‘s 501(c)3 as CNY Drones @ RoboSpartans Robotics.   RoboSpartans Robotics had an incredibly successful 8 year run as a founding team of local FIRST Tech Challenge and FIRST LEGO League programs and as 3X World Championship multi-award Finalists.  Former coaches and event coordinators initially met with drone enthusiasts, educators, government officials and drone technology company representatives throughout 2016.




Want to learn more?  Contact us! 

Lisa Marie Payne, Administrator


FAA Interpretation of Special Rule for Model Aircraft     (PDF)

FAA Advisory Circular 91-57A    (PDF)

Definition of Terms for Special Rule (PDF)