Droneports: Unlocking the Economic Potential for Your Community at XPONENTIAL

Discover how Droneports are becoming an epicenter for regional UAS activities. Learn from industry leaders and visionary communities about how Droneports are serving as nodes for testing, training and commercial drone operations by obtaining permissions for flight, and providing facilities for housing, maintenance, fueling, piloting of fleets and more.

Co-located event at XPONENTIAL, All Things Unmanned, April 29, 2019, Chicago, IL

Sessions & Speakers

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Droneport Seminar: Unlocking the Economic Potential for Your Community
Co-located with XPONENTIAL 2019

Monday, April 29, 9:30 am – 5pm
McCormick Place, Room S501
Chicago, IL


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Sallie Traxler
Director, DronePort Network

For over 20 years Sallie has been a strategic mind behind organizations identifying and achieving their goals through thought partnership, innovation and change management. Committed to creating the space for organizations to move from vision to implementation, she has led initiatives aimed at how organizations meet the needs of their customers and stakeholders. She is known for her ability to forge deep partnerships with businesses, nonprofits, and local, state and federal agencies. She has led and consulted with national and international professional and trade associations to drive strategic growth by aligning industry, network and organizational resources to meet emerging needs.

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Federal Aviation Administration UAS Forecast

Be among the first to hear newly released information from the FAA. In this presentation, we will provide activities of UAS (sUAS) in the US, presenting a detailed look at the past trends, current distribution of non-hobby/commercial sUAS, and types of equipment that are flown today. Additionally, we will provide trends associated with remote pilot authorization in the country. Using time series and econometric models that have been developed within the FAA, we will then present 5-year outlook/forecast of sUAS activities including remote pilot.

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Dipasis Bhadra
Senior Quantitative Economist with the FAA’s Office of Aviation Policy and Plans

Dipasis is a Ph.D. economist who presently works in the areas of UAS integration in the NAS. In the past, he developed and implemented origin-destination (O&D) flow model that the FAA presently uses for Terminal Area Forecast (TAF). His research and published work can be found on ResearchGate.

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Matching UAS Industry Needs with Community Assets

Lessons learned in developing droneports in collaboration with airports in Michigan, Wyoming, Texas and California to support drone infrastructure and development. Understand what the industry needs, key elements you bring to the table and how to identify your target audience.

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Thomas Swoyer, Jr.
President, GrandSKY Development Company

Tom lives to turn airports into “droneports.” His career in infrastructure development began with building reuse projects for the military. Since 2015, Tom has led the development of Grand Sky, the nation’s first commercial UAS droneport. From fund-raising and operations to marketing and tenanting, Tom has engaged in every aspect of growing Grand Sky from concept to operating the droneport, generating over $19 million per year in economic impact. Grand Sky seeks to grow its network from a single location to five or more that will create a network for point-to-point UAS flights. Grand Sky is positioned to be the first commercial UAS operator for large UAS systems in support of energy, agriculture and emergency management.

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Panel: Is a Droneport Right for Your Community?

Hear from droneport project managers in Kentucky, Wyoming and Oklahoma regarding what their communities are doing now to prepare to support UAS activities. This panel will feature varying models of droneports, what it takes to build support for the project, as well as potential funding sources, tenants and partners and what you need to consider when developing an operating plan.

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Bart Massey
Executive Director, USA Drone Port, Hazard, KY

Bart is a technology and business visionary with solid executive experience managing multiple projects. He serves as the Executive Director of USA Drone Port/National Unmanned Robotics Research Development Center (NURRDC). The USA Drone Port vision is to utilize the region's creative assets to craft a world class unmanned vehicle research, development, training and education facility. The USA Drone Port strives to be the premiere model for innovation to reinvent the economy of Eastern Kentucky and help move the Commonwealth to emerging global industries. Bart is a Certified Commercial UAV Pilot.
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Paul Tutty
Program Manager, Skyway 36, an Innovation and Technology Project of the Osage Nation, Tulsa, OK

Paul served for more than a decade in army aviation in both groundcrew management and aircrew roles. He specialized in aviation technology and completed various overseas deployments. For the past ten years he has worked for the Osage Nation government, focused on improving the constituent experience through creative design. His current work at Skyway 36 is an example of combining business, technology, and human values to keep pushing the boundaries of innovative solutions. Skyway 36 is the nation’s first Droneport operated by a Native American government, located three miles north of downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma.

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Timothy L. Stamp
Business Development Director, Coffey Engineering & Surveying, Laramie, WY

Tim has over twenty five years of experience working in economic development. He serves on the Laramie Joint Powers Board for the municipal airport and is the project manager on the droneport project. He was instrumental in the formation of a strategic partnership between the University of Wyoming, the City of Laramie and Laramie Economic Development Corporation to secure the funding from a variety of sources for the creation of the Wyoming Technology Business Center.

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Central Role of Flight Safety Systems and Airspace Management in Droneport Development

Setting up a droneport can be a complex process, especially when complying with standards and regulations, managing FAA authorizations and providing responsible airspace management. Flying drones near controlled airspace or beyond visual line-of-sight requires unmanned aircraft operators to be able to detect-and-avoid other aircraft and to maintain well-clear distances. This session will help you to understand and begin to address thesey challenges with the strategies, processes and technical solutions available to implement safe and compliant airspace management for your droneport.

Kraettli L. Epperson photo

Kraettli L. Epperson
CEO, Vigilant Aerospace Systems

Kraettli is the CEO and Co-Founder of Vigilant Aerospace Systems, which provides airspace management and autonomous collision avoidance software for unmanned aircraft based on a patent exclusively licensed from NASA. He has a 20-year career as a serial entrepreneur and investor in technology startups. He is an expert speaker at major UAS industry conferences, including InterDrone, Xponential, the UAS Summit & Expo, addressing topics such as unmanned aircraft detect-and-avoid, and UAS flight safety and airspace management systems for commercial operators, fleet managers, and unmanned airfields. He is the co-author of multiple industry research papers on autonomous systems and is an FAA certified Part 107 remote pilot.

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Building the Local and Regional Ecosystem to Support UAS Development

A brief case study of the UAS Cluster Initiative, highlighting the key components necessary to build an entrepreneurial ecosystem that supports UAS industry growth.

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Amanda Radovic
Program Manager, UAS Cluster Initiative

Amanda has worked with over 1,000 start-ups, spin-outs, and research organizations commercializing emerging technologies through Development Capital Networks. She serves as the Program Manager of the Unmanned Aerial Systems Cluster (UASCI), CEO of the WBT Innovation Marketplace (WBT), and the President of Innovate, Inc. She currently manages a Small Business Administration contract, part of the Regional Innovation Cluster Program, to provide services that support the unmanned aerial systems industry.

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Assessing Economic Impact and Job Creation of Droneport Activities

Learn about key economic indicators that can be used to secure funding for your project. How assessing the economic impact of small and large commercial droneport operations, including job creation and wages, spend in the local economy and employment impacts as a part of your project.

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Jeffrey Donohoe
Principle, Donohoe and Associates, LLC

Jeffrey is the principle broker of GrandSky and leads Donohoe Associates, LLC, a multi-discipline economic and real estate consulting firm. The firm was founded in 2004 based on his experience of more than twenty years in the fields of financial analysis, market studies, feasibility studies, adaptive reuse analysis and economic evaluations. The firm provides a comprehensive range of advisory, marketing, and management services to clients in the private and public sectors.

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Facilitated Discussion: What is Necessary to Support the Development of Droneports

Join the conversation centered on what is necessary to support the development of droneports. What do you need to know that you don’t know? What do you need to continue to move forward? Where are you struggling and what do you need to break through?

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Jim Troxel
Executive Consultant, UAS Angel Network and Cowboy Technology Angels

Jim is an author and consultant to public service organizations and private companies worldwide. He is a founding partner of Development Capital Networks, LLC, and its affiliate, WBTangels, LLC. His current focus is managing and facilitating a network of angel funds in Oklahoma, North Dakota and Wyoming. He is a facilitation and training expert specializing in the fields of citizen and employee participation, strategic planning, change management, organizational learning and long-term systemic change. His career in community and organizational development and leadership training spans 40 years and a dozen countries. He has inspired more than 70,000 people in over 1000 seminars and workshops.

Presented by the DronePort Network in collaboration with Unmanned Aerial Systems Cluster Initiative

The DronePort Network brings together communities and thought leaders interested in unlocking the potential to prosper and create jobs in the emerging UAS industry.

The Unmanned Aerial Systems Cluster Initiative (UASCI), is funded through a contract with the U.S. Small Business Administration to accelerate the growth of the Unmanned Aerial System industry in the U.S. by enabling established companies and emerging entrepreneurs to connect, work together, and gain access to national technology, global capital, advanced business models and global markets.

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