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Drone pilot living with autism soars to new heights in aviation

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Posted at 7:38 AM, Jan 03, 2022

TAMPA, Fla. — New this year the government will begin registering drones much like cars. They will require them to have a Remote ID, like a license plate. It’s opening up a whole new avenue for drone-related businesses, including one right here in Tampa Bay.

Darcy Rouhani always wanted to be a pilot but due to sensory issues related to autism she was actually never able to get in the cockpit but that didn’t stop her from taking flight by way of a drone.

“So it was always a dream of mine and this is kind of a way I get to experience that, achieve that dream,” said Rouhani. “It’s probably safer, my mom is much happier.”

Just flying a drone was never enough for Rouhani, she wanted to make an impact in the aviation industry.

“My experience in commercial aviation is that it was dominated by males and so I just wanted to see a change,” said Rouhani.

So she founded the company RoC Aviation Services, helping businesses with drones meet the ever-evolving rules and regulations of the FAA.

“Companies that have fleets, that do land surveillance, geospatial mapping,” said Rouhani. “They have to gain design approvals, production approvals, appliance certification in order to move forward so that’s what we are doing.”

Darcy never looked at autism as a challenge, more like an asset.

“I have a form of spatial intelligence which allows me to visualize complex systems in my mind,” said Rouhani.

Darcy’s business partner, Jocelyn Pritchett, says Darcy’s unique understanding is helping their company soar to new heights.

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“She can say, ‘well this is the way my autistic brain sees this and so that’s why I’m approaching it like this,’ and it just makes perfect sense to me,” said Pritchett.