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University of Alaska Fairbanks launches the Sentry

Published: May. 24, 2022 at 5:59 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The University of Alaska Fairbanks made history Sunday by flying an unmanned aircraft at Fairbanks International Airport.

The 13-foot, 280 pound plane, known as Sentry, was the first civilian-operated drone to take flight from an international airport in Alaska.

The drone ascended into the sky while other aircraft continued to operate in the surrounding airspace, which is unusual for drone operations.

During the procedure, the Sentry’s crew communicated with air traffic controllers the same way they would if piloting a plane.

Cathy Cahill, the director of the Alaska Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration said, “This was integration, and this is what we expect the future to be. The aircraft safely took off, circled, did some low flybys and landed successfully. It takes a village to actually do something this ground-breaking.”

This flight could be the first step to creating a drone economy in Alaska, which could include cargo delivery, surveying wildfires, or even dropping emergency supplies during a search and rescue mission.

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