Posted: Sep 12, 2012 11:58 AM by Q2 News
GREAT FALLS - A Montana-made airborne drone took to the Montana skies on Wednesday morning.
The Sandstorm, a remotely-operated aircraft, soared in front of those who played a part in its development during a demonstration flight conducted at Malmstrom Air Force Base.
Advocates hope to use these aircraft in Montana to help fight wildfires and conduct mining and construction surveys.
Developers and proponents for these drone planes say there's no better place to create more jobs and utilize this advancement than the Treasure State.
Ed Buttrey of the Center For Remote Integration noted, "We have a state that can emulate most places in the world with diversity of terrain and environments. So when you're talking about a great place to develop new aircraft, a great place to build them, to test them, which equates to a lot of jobs, theres just nowhere like Montana."
Wednesday's demonstration flight showed a product that took years of coordination and developing.
The aircraft has a 15-foot wing span, an eight-foot long body and has the technology to be flown via the internet; most drones use satellite-based controls, which can be very expensive.
During a previous demonstration flight, Buttrey noted that the drone will benefit commercial users, such as those in the agricultural industry: "We can fly an aircraft with sensors over a farmer's field and we can tell him where he needs water, where he needs pesticide, where he needs bug spray or fertilizer and where he doesn't. So this is exciting because farmers won't have to put down these chemicals and water in areas where they don't need to."