Middle Georgia State MVP: Dakoda Neilson

Author: News Bureau
Posted: Monday, February 9, 2015 12:39 PM
Categories: Finding Greatness | School of Aviation

Macon, GA

Dakoda Neilson specializes in UAS research.

Full Name: Dakoda Neilson.

Age: 20.

Hometown and Residence: Canton, Ga.

High School: Creekview High School, where he was a member of the Aeronautics Club for 4 years and competed in the Team America Rocketry Challenge. “I advised the team post-graduation and in 2014 they placed first in the USA and second in the international competition.”

Current Employment: Full-time student.

Degree Objective: Dual major in Aerospace Operations- Fixed Wing Flight and Business Administration- Aviation Fixed Wing Flight.

Class Rank: Junior

Primary Campus: Eastman.

Activities: Unmanned Aerial Systems Research and Development - president and co-founder; and Aeronautics Club - safety officer and remote control aircraft instructor.

Career Goals: “My career goals are odd at best. My personal life goals are intertwined with my career goals which is why I have resorted to doing just about everything I can in college. I would like to build an airplane and circumnavigate the globe. So my goal when it come to my career is to be able to support my family and finance my trip around the world. Whether that by UAS, manned aviation or business I plan to be ready for it.”

He chose Middle Georgia State College because … “It has a top-notch aviation program with modern aircraft, small class sizes, and budget-friendly tuition. Before learning about Middle Georgia State College, going to school to fly was only a dream, with other schools costing tens of thousands more. Two and half years after making the choice to come to MGA, I am glad I did. With the college’s continued involvement in manned aviation and developing involvement in unmanned aerial systems, I have been able to expand my horizons.”

The one thing that surprised him about Middle Georgia State was … “I have not had a professor here I did not like. My friends at other schools have told me horror stories about how they did not connect with any of their professors or how they felt like they wandered through the four years they were there with no guidance. At Middle Georgia State, every professor, every staff member I have come in to contact with have gone out of his or her way to help me.”

His favorite professor is … “Professor Florio. Being a former aviation attorney makes him a perfect professor to teach aviation law. Out of all the classes, I have taken at Middle Georgia State the most useful class I have ever taken was his. Introduction Aviation Law and Insurance helped me when I was looking at starting a business last summer and most recently when my car was totaled by another driver. On top Professor Florio’s teaching, he is also a wonderful person to talk to. He has a passion for aviation that he loves to chat about.”

His favorite place to study is … “At the model flying field at Dennis Hobbies in Eastman. The field being 10 minutes from the main campus is a great place to go hang out and crack open a book. With someone always there flying an RC plane, there is always someone to watch fly or crash depending on the day. Dennis Hobbies is also a great help to the Aeronautics Club because without their generous support we would not have a place to fly and help others get in the RC hobby.”

One thing people do not know about him is … “I am a Young Eagle Pilot. I had my first flight at 11 at an Experimental Aircraft Association Young Eagle Rally. That flight gave me the desire to learn to fly. Subsequently, I became a member of my local EAA Chapter, EAA 690. The members of Chapter 690 have given so much to me in my pursuit to be a pilot I realized the only way I could pay them back is by giving back to the community. On June 21, 2014, I brought everything full circle by flying four Young Eagles all between the ages of 8-17.”

His friends make fun of him because … “I can be a bit of an aviation geek at times. In high school, instead of playing sports and doing normal things, I memorized the Jane’s Aircraft Identification book, built a turbojet engine out of a turbocharger from a car and launched model rockets. Even now, I have RC planes hanging from the ceiling in my apartment. Some call me a geek; I like to think of myself as passionate.”

The one person he’d most like to meet is … “Clarence ‘Kelly’ Johnson. Kelly ran Lockheed Martin’s advanced product development office known as the Skunk Works during the heyday of aircraft development. Under his guidance, we got revolutionary aircraft like SR-71 Blackbird, the U-2 spy plane, P-38 and the Constellation. He was not only an excellent engineer but also a great manager and I wish I could have had the opportunity to sit down with him and ask him some questions.”

Five years from now he sees himself … “Working primarily with commercial unmanned aerial systems. I see that as the direction that most commercial aviation operations will eventually move to. As much as I love flying, it is more cost effective for companies to use small and medium-sized unmanned aircraft to handle rapid response, agriculture aerial application and filming. If that doesn’t work out, my certificates, ratings and degrees would allow me to find work being a flight instructor, commercial pilot or in a management position at an aviation firm. Personally, I would also like to build and finish a Vans RV-8 amateur built airplane and pursue flying seaplanes.”