Nevada has Area 51. Warren County has Area 57!

Flying Objects and Other Fun Invading Warren Community College on May the 4th

by Giulia Grotenhuis

If you are curious about life – after high school or looking to change careers – but are uncertain of your future, check out Area 57 and the Uncrewed Systems Programs at Warren Community College, Route 57, Washington. What better day to hold such an even than Saturday, May the 4th, 2024 (rain date May 5)?

Area 57 will showcase the College’s nationally acclaimed Uncrewed Systems Program, which teaches piloting, design and development, and the maintenance and repair of drones, as well as AI and Robotics. Hear from staff, current and former students. Area 57 focuses on careers, education and fun – an important combination in life. The event will include other aviation and types of tech, like hot air balloons, combat and FRC robots, showcased at both the College and neighboring Warren Technical School. Tech vendors, exhibitors, clubs and leagues welcomed.

Drones were first used as military devices. One of the first aerial systems used by the military was combination hot air balloon and torpedo, in the late 19th century. Hot air balloons were also used for reconnaissance, observation, and communication. As technology advanced balloons were equipped with cameras, telegraphs, and other instruments that allowed for even better reconnaissance and observation. Other types of uncrewed aerial vehicles were pilotless torpedoes, used in World War I. Fast forward to 1990’s when the US military ramped up the development and use of drones, like the well-known Predator drones. Around 2006, the use of drones for non-military applications began.

In 2017, Warren began to build what is now a nationally acclaimed Uncrewed Systems Program, known as WarrenUAS, that has been recognized by industry leaders and the FAA as one of the best in the country. Uncrewed Systems technology is one of the fastest-growing sectors in today’s career market. It is the future of aviation and all transportation. Uncrewed vehicles are used today in an ever-increasing number of industries such as surveying, construction, mining, environmental sciences, agriculture, commercial package delivery, public utilities/energy, cinematography and photography, search and rescue, and public safety/law enforcement. And all these industries are currently understaffed in qualified professionals.Warren offers the following programs, to help you get started in one of these industries:

  • • Associate of Applied Science in Uncrewed Systems – Learn to pilot drones and robots, and repair them.
  • • Option available for Precision Agriculture studies.
  • • Option available for Commercial Space Operations.
  • • Drone Pilot Certificate – Become an FAA-licensed Drone Pilot.
  • • Drone Repair & Maintenance Certificate – Learn how drones and robots work and how to repair them.

More Activities at Area 57

Garden State Combat Robot League ( invite you watch or participate in May the 4th Be With You combat robot bout. The competition features 1 & 3 lb. Beetleweights, Plastic Ants, and Antweights. Registration will be open on closer to the competition date.

Several FRC (First Robotics Competition) robots will be on display along with their teams. Learn all about participating from Team 56 from Bound Brook and Team Impact from local Warren Hills High School.

Warren Community College is also home to two popular Hot Air Balloon Festivals. Some planned balloon activities for Area 57 are a presentation on How A Balloon Works. Get hands-on experience handling a balloon, with RE/MAX of NJ. Walk inside an actual hot air balloon, that will be cold inflated with fans. Special shape hot air balloon, Fred G Monster, will also invade the event. Take a tethered balloon ride and get an arial view of the festivities, as weather allows. ($30 adult, $20 youth up to 12 years of age.)

Stop by the new Fascination Station children’s activity area for some free STEM related crafts and games. Build a rocket at the Moon Base: Launch Pad 57 tent. There will be different levels for different age groups. Take the Warren County's Timeline of Technology scavenger hunt challenge. Learn all about Warren County’s past, present and future technological revolutions while you search for clues in a scavenger hunt.

Time travel with Autocades mobile arcade and their space and science-fiction themed classics. Blast space bugs in Galaga, stop the alien invasion in Defender, avoid the assault in Asteroids, and for MAY THE 4TH, take down the Death Star on the Atari Star Wars space shooter with its iconic vector graphics and learn the ways of the Jedi on the Star Wars video pinball machine. ($5 wristband to play.)

Drone demos and exhibits. How many flying objects can you identify?

The event is free for students and Veterans, $4 for seniors and $7 for adults. Tickets may be reserved or purchased online. Please have appropriate ID with you at check in. Food will be available for purchase.

To keep up to date on the full schedule of events, check Flying Festivals of Warren County. For more information on the event call or text organizer, Giulia Grotenhuis, at 908-283-0721, or via email.

Area 57 is organized by Flying Festivals of Warren County, in cooperation with the Warren Community College Foundation. Supported in part by a grant from the NJ Department of State, Division of Travel and Tourism (

Nearby accommodations and attractions

  • Last Frontier Angler

    Guided fly fishing excursions, beginner to expert, instruction also available. Catch trout in spring, smallmouth bass in summer, ice fishing in winter. Explore the Paulinskill, Flatbrook and wild trout streams.


  • Millbrook Village

    Millbrook Village, part of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, is a re-created community of the 1800s where aspects of pioneer life are exhibited and occasionally demonstrated by skilled and dedicated docents throughout the village

  • Pohatcong Native Arboretum

    Local roots!

    56 Mine Hill Rd, Washington

  • Allamuchy Mountain Park

    The 8,461 acre park includes the 2500-acre Deer Lake Park, Waterloo Village, mountain bike and horseback trails.


  • Rutherfurd Hall

    Consider Rutherfurd Hall as refuge and sanctuary in similar ways now, as it served a distinguished family a hundred years ago.

    1686 Route 517, Allamuchy


This story was first published: Spring, 2023