'Flying Past The UAS Startup Stage' from UAS Magazine
Matt Dunlevy exemplifies everything you would expect from an unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) startup CEO that launched his business in a city that has become synonymous for its support of drones. He wears running shoes and jeans, not loafers and ties. On a Monday morning he could be meeting with city leaders on a new drone initiative to bring more UAS firms to North Dakota from as far away as Finland. By that afternoon, he could be driving to a job site to fly and inspect a transmission line for a paying customer. If he’s not flying for profit, you’ll most likely find him and his crew at their city-approved UAS airfield that resides just on the edge of town overlooking a man-made pond and a massive ag field. If you happen to be standing with him during a UAS flight demo, you’ll most likely hear him say, “Man, I want to fly that thing.”
Dunlevy can talk shop with angel investors, UAV manufacturers, payload designers, local business owners or any air traffic control tower personnel that happens to be on shift at the time of Dunlevy’s call.
Like thousands of other U.S. Federal Aviation Administration section 333 exempt UAS companies, Dunlevy and his company have experienced the adrenaline rush of opening that first pack of logo-printed business cards, the agonizing wait for the FAA’s 333 approval to arrive and the grind of phone calls, emails and meetings with potential clients or partners that are interested in drones but unsure what they truly want to pay for.
Throughout the past two years, UAS Magazine has followed Dunlevy and his team in their trek from little-known UAS startup to what the company has become today. As their timeline and story reveals, young UAS entities have experienced the excitement of operating in a new industry, along with the challenges. With the regulations of Part 107 now in place to allow a multitude of commercial operations to take place without the regulatory hindrance many—Dunlevy included—experienced during the past few years, it appears that the stage is set for thousands of UAS firms across the country to thrive—especially if they can match the abilities of the CEO, who if you had to guess, is probably at his airfield south of town right now in his jeans, running shoes and logoed polo, watching his pilots fly multi-rotors against the backdrop of a big blue sky that could someday look similar to operations his team flies anywhere in the world.
Written by: Luke Gelver
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