U.S. Air Force Secretary Wilson Visits Grand Sky for First Unmanned Aircraft Flight

Grand Sky was the first location in the country approved to host the flight

GRAND FORKS, N.D.– United States Air Force Secretary Wilson visited Grand Sky to celebrate the first unmanned beyond visual line of sight flight.

Grand Sky was the first location in the country approved to host the first unmanned beyond visual line of sight flight.

“The FAA’s decision to allow beyond line of sight operations without a chase vehicle is a real milestone in flight because it will allow us to test and have a place to test using unmanned systems with manned systems in the national airspace here in the United States,” United States Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said.

With the FAA’s new and updated certificate of authorization, the MQ1 is allowed to fly 30 nautical miles around Grand Sky.

The aircraft is tracked through the aircraft itself and through the team on the ground.

The U.S. Air Force, Grand Forks County, Grand Sky Development Company, and the Northern Plains UAS Test site collaborated to provide this new avenue for innovation.

“That’s what you see here today,” Senator John Hoeven (R-N.D.) said. “This beyond the visual line of sight without a chase aircraft sets the stage now for us to go to this kind of next generation of flight development for unmanned aircraft, large and small.”

Secretary Wilson says air space is crucial for learning more.

“The aerospace is very valuable,” Secretary Wilson said. “The testing is very valuable and it’s a mission that compliments the Air Force very well and leverages off of the things we have here, particularly the radar systems.”

Senator Hoeven says it’s important for the military to be involved with technological advances like this one.

“We always have to have the best technology,” Senator Hoeven said. “Our men and women in uniform have to have the best technology and this is part of making sure they do.”

Within the next few months, two MQ9’s with one flight crew will be flying over North Dakota civilian air.

Grand Sky plans to eventually expand the range of the unmanned aircrafts to the entire state of North Dakota.

Categories: North Dakota News