The Future Takes Flight: Historical Drone Flight Glides over NDSU Tailgaters

North Dakota was one of ten sites nationwide to test out the new drones

FARGO, N.D. — A┬áhistorical milestone in drone aviation was gliding through the skies right over the heads of tailgaters prior to NDSU’s victory over South Dakota State.

North Dakota’s Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Pilot Program completed its first public mission by flying several drones over the NDSU tailgaters.

“The fact that Fargo is a cooperative city as someone who could do this, the fact that we could work with NDSU and the FargoDome and local law enforcement to pull this off is really important,” said Nicholas Flom, the Executive Director of the North Dakota UAS Test Site.

North Dakota was one of ten locations across the country chosen for the public flights.

Governor Doug Burgum, Congressman Kevin Cramer, and U.S. Deputy Chief Technology Officer all watched the takeoff.

After a successful first public flight, local law enforcement is encouraged to find ways to use drones in the metro, referencing past events where drones were a crucial asset.

Back in February, a fire burst out at the Magellan Partners tank farm in West Fargo.

A big help in extinguishing the flames was a drone flown in from Grand Forks.

“The people on the ground couldn’t see that there was still a fire, but we could see that there was a fire from the angle that we had up in the sky, so it gives us a different vantage point,” said Deputy Matthew King of the Cass County Sheriff’s Office.

Since then, King has been going up to Grand Forks to learn about situations where drones can be beneficial to save lives.

“If we can have a quicker response to try and locate a missing child or somebody with dementia, Alzheimer’s, that they just take off walking, it helps out the family members, that helps out everybody in general,” Deputy King said.

Deputy King says the Cass County Sheriff’s Office and other law enforcement agencies across the metro should roll out drone technology in the next few months, trying to keep the streets safe from up above.

“We see a great advantage if we’re looking for somebody, we can put a drone up in the air, maybe they’re running around the neighborhood, you can find them that way, so we anticipate it will be a great move for the city,” said Mayor Tim Mahoney of Fargo.

Deputy King’s plan falls in line with Governor Doug Burgum’s vision for the state to be an innovator in drone technology.

“There are all kinds of applications for public safety where having eyes in the skies if you will can support and help make it safer for our law enforcement on the ground,” said Governor Burgum.

As the future takes flight, officials want their ideas to go to new heights.

Deputy King says the drones would only be used if an officer obtains a search warrant, or if certain circumstances makes their use necessary.

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