Dr. Heather Wilson at North Dakota drone event

Published: Aug. 20, 2018 at 6:51 PM MDT
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Former School of Mines President Dr. Heather Wilson was back in the Dakotas Monday.

Wilson is now the Secretary of the Air Force.

She was in Grand Forks to commemorate the launch of the first large drone to fly in the regular airspace beyond the sight of the pilot and without a manned airplane to observe the plane.

Dr. Wilson took the opportunity to praise what the community of Grand Forks is doing around their base.

The flight was conducted today by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, which is a tenant at the Grand Sky aviation technology park.

The FAA now allows those drones to fly within 30 miles of the park.

Dr. Wilson took the time to laud the community of Grand Forks.

Dr. Wilson says, "One of the things this community has figured out is an air base is a piece of concrete, but it's airspace that makes it tremendously valuable. And the leadership shown here by the community, by the delegation, by the state leadership is taking advantage and building on that airspace to be able to test things for the future that makes this tremendously valuable."

Dr. Wilson said the ability to fly in the national airspace system below 18,000 feet without eyes on or a chase plane is a milestone for the United States.