The 500,000+ attended Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) AirVenture fly-in and convention in Oshkosh is always a good time, but this year was an especially good time for UAS operators. Part 107 goes into effect on August 29th and the overall atmosphere in Oshkosh was fairly friendly towards the drone industry. Both the unmanned and the manned aviation are seeing the beginnings of unification in a shared skies environment. From our perspective, it appears that a mutual understanding is forming between manned and unmanned operators. Companies bridging the gap are lead by aviators with mixed backgrounds in both unmanned and manned aviation. Pierce Aerospace is of that pedigree. So is the airspace management company AirMap.
Industry consultants kept telling us that the serious unmanned companies were at Oshkosh.
It was clear that many of the companies attending Oshkosh had similar goals and are working with each other to help educate and enhance the capabilities of UAS operators. Kerry Garrison of Multicopter Warehouse gave us microphone time during his presentation to discuss Flight Portal and how it can act as a comprehensive flight tool that keeps operators compliant. AirMap threw a rooftop party on top of the Hilton for UAS folks and even handed out drones as party gifts (best party gift ever?). We will be meeting them again in Los Angeles in a couple weeks.
We spoke with many universities and noticed that more and more of them are starting UAS programs. Students are even leaving these programs early and/or leaving college completely debt free. Several universities told us that there is such great demand that their students are getting $70-100k salary offerings upon graduation. We were happy to hear that Flight Portal will fit the classroom and operational needs of these programs as they continue to grow.
Drone manufactures were featured in innovation pitches; there were policy forums, educational workshops, and more discussions were taking place on the current and future roles of UAS.
If you made it to Oshkosh we hope that you had a great time and learned a lot. If you didn't make it then be sure that you sign up for next year. The companies paving the way for this industry are already integrating with manned aviation at the largest aviation event in the world.