Senator John Hoeven today hosted U.S. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson at Grand Sky, North Dakota’s premiere unmanned aerial systems (UAS) research and development park, for the first flight of an unmanned aircraft that goes both beyond the visual line of sight (BVLOS) of the operator and without a chase plane. The flight is being conducted by General Atomics and comes on the heels of an announcement made by Hoeven and General Atomics CEO Linden Blue last week that the company is planning to more than triple its presence at Grand Sky.
“Today’s flight is a historic milestone for our state, the nation and our UAS industry as a whole,” Hoeven said. “Further, it is fitting that General Atomics, which just announced a tremendous expansion at Grand Sky, would be the company to conduct this operation and mark this important day. The capability to fly unmanned aircraft beyond the visual line of sight of the operator and without a chase plane pushes North Dakota ahead of the pack in the UAS sector. We’ve worked on attaining this goal for more than a decade, through creating the test sites, establishing Grand Sky and recruiting its tenants as well as building up our UAS operations through the National Guard, Air Force and CBP. And now, we’ve opened the door to a whole new set of opportunities, across the commercial, military and federal arenas.”