GILA’s unmanned aerial vehicle classes are taught by Paul Apfelbeck and Rich Reifsnyder.


Students in the unmanned aerial vehicle classes earn the remote pilot certification from the Federal Aviation Administration. The certification allows graduates to work commercially and professionally using unmanned aerial vehicles.


Principles of Flight focuses on student understanding of the parts and functions of aircraft, including unmanned aerial vehicles, as well as the physics of flight, design considerations for flight, and learning vocabulary terms associated with aviation. Students will build small unmanned aerial vehicle hobby kits and use them in a variety of recreational uses.

Introduction to UAVs provides students with the opportunity to earn their remote pilot certification. The course focuses on learning applicable regulations relating to small unmanned aircraft system rating privileges, limitations, and flight operation; airspace classification and operating requirements, and flight restrictions affecting small unmanned aircraft operation; aviation weather sources and effects of weather on small unmanned aircraft performance; small unmanned aircraft loading and performance; emergency procedures; crew resource management; radio communication procedures; aeronautical decision-making and judgment; airport operations; and maintenance and preflight inspection procedures.

UAV Applications allows students to practice skills and techniques of unmanned aerial vehicle use in a variety of workplace settings. The project-based class includes interviews and exploration of people and organizations using unmanned aerial vehicles. Professional applications explored fish and wildlife management, real estate appraisal and sales, law enforcement and search and rescue, filmmaking and still photography, sporting events, cartography and surveying, buildings and facilities maintenance, safety monitoring, and construction. Students will also learn rudimentary use of Photoshop and Premiere Elements in the class.


Students must be 16 years at the time of the remote pilot certification test to take the Introduction to UAV class, and students are required to have their certification to take the UAV Applications class. Principles of Flight is open to all interested students.


Rich Reifsnyder has a degree in aerospace engineering and worked at NASA as an aerospace technologist from 2005 – 2017, where he specialized in propulsion. He started working in Galena schools in 2018.

Paul Apfelbeck has 40 years of experience in media and information technology, with specialized knowledge of photography, making his background a perfect match for an emerging technology depending on the use of image and video. He has been a teacher in Galena since 2001.


Principles of Flight students can take part in the Lighter than Air Design Challenge and the newly formed drone racing league. Students in the applications class will work collaboratively with other students in the photography, journalism, and broadcasting classes by providing images and videos for student productions. The students will work alongside the Galena City School District creating promotional and educational material for the students in our school.