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On the fly Quarter 1 February 2017


SkySkopes Academy announced Night flights approved for SkySkopes Minot, N.D. office opens for business

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Ready for launch SkySkopes staff headed to Phoenix in December to attend the Vegetation Management Conference organized by CEATI International. Company pilots demonstrated the capabilities of Sharper A6 drones when used for transmission line

Table of Contents

inspections for conference attendees. SkySkopes joined staff from Sharper Shape, the global leader in drone-based automated inspection, to present at the conference. Pictured above, SkySkopes pilots Andrew Schill (left) and Eric Goetsch ready the Sharper A6 aircraft for flight.

• From the President’s Desk..........................................Page 3 • SkySkopes Academy takes off..................................Page 4 • Minot office opens for business..............................Page 6 • SkySkopes adds key employees...............................Page 7 • Waiver for night flights approved..........................Page 8 • SkySkopes passes TEEX safety audit......................Page 9 • The Pilot View....................................................................Page 9 • News & Notes....................................................................Page 9

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From the President’s Desk SkySkopes finishes strong in 2016, big projects define new year The year 2016 marked one of milestones for SkySkopes. Our cadre of pilots are some of the most qualified in the nation and continued to bolster the company’s reputation as national leader in flight operations. In 2016, our staff inspected structures, flew at night and even operated drones beyond-visual-line-of-sight legally and commercially. The SkySkopes team has been making history in the unmanned aircraft systems industry for just under three years now, and our future continues to look bright. I’m delighted to share company news for our inaugural newsletter. This newsletter will be published quarterly and will have updates on what’s going on in the world of SkySkopes. This quarter has been especially successful for SkySkopes. We recently launched an audacious new initiative called the SkySkopes Academy with the purpose of bringing further airspace and safety awareness to the forefront of UAS operations in general. This educational opportunity is one of the first in Matt Dunlevy, President and CEO of the country to provide a comprehensive foundation of knowlSkySkopes. edge to anyone looking to break into the UAS industry. We are creating online courses for Part 107 certificates giving anyone over the age of 16 the opportunity to experience the joys of safely flying unmanned aircraft in business. We’re also developing online introductory courses for grades 8-12 to bring UAS into the light for high school students as a potential career option. This course is the only of its kind in the nation and will launch in the fall semester of 2017. This summer we will offer weeklong basic and weeklong advanced courses for in-person UAS flight qualification as well as uniquely tailored mission-specific courses for those looking to integrate unmanned aircraft into their profession. The academy also offers experiential learning opportunities for college students interested in unmanned aircraft. Our class of a dozen UAS mission pilot interns at the SkySkopes Academy is performing admirably this semester, but I’m not surprised because SkySkopes hand-selects pilots exclusively from the UAS program at the University of North Dakota. Joining them are several interns that will serve in marketing and business development roles for the company. Look for their work in future newsletters. The culmination of our educational offerings can’t be found elsewhere. We look to see great things from the SkySkopes Academy, where we’re taking UAS training to new heights. To those of you interested in learning more about SkySkopes, turn the page and keep reading. We have a lot of news and information to share. ­— Matt Dunlevy, President and CEO

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SkySkopes Academy takes off

SkySkopes Academy Chief Instructor Pilot Cory Vinger (right) observes flight student Gary Niemeier operate a Syma drone.

SkySkopes established a training academy in December at the University of North Dakota Center for Innovation. The academy is geared toward anyone with a desire to learn more about unmanned aircraft and the overall industry, whether they are currently a hobbyist or a business owner. “We’re not here to just teach someone how to run a drone business,” SkySkopes Director of Flight Operations Mike Johnson said. “We want people to have a better understanding of the national airspace and be able to navigate it safely. ” Classes at the academy are set to start this spring and summer with online and in-person offerings available. While located on the UND campus, SkySkopes President and CEO Matt Dunlevy said the academy would not compete with the university’s UAS program but rather act as a complement to it. In addition to flight training, academy students would study topics focused

on the engineering, data collection and analysis, sensor and business aspects of the unmanned industry. “It’s real world training, it’s industry training and it’s hands-on experiential learning,” Dunlevy said. “Students will find it’s extremely valuable to their career progression as far as flight hours logged and lessons learned in the real world.” Students will have two options for their education.

Page 5 The first is an online course that aims to prepare them for taking a remote pilot certificate test from the Federal Aviation Administration. The certificate is necessary to operate unmanned aircraft, also called drones, for commercial purposes. The second path is in-person flight training that is tailored to the student’s existing skill set. “I think the academy will give students a full-rounded foundation with the classroom piece as well as flight operations,” said Rick Thomas, interim dean of the academy. “Some people don’t really realize that flying these small UAS can be challenging in different kinds of environGary Niemeier (center) holds his SkySkopes Academy certificate ments and different rule sets apply to each accompanied by SkySkopes CEO Matt Dunlevy (right) and Chief Instructor Pilot Cory Vinger (left). environment that they fly in — so the classroom is important as is the hands-on flying.” Niemeier added he would recommend the training to Students graduating from the academy’s flight trainanyone looking to fly drones safely and knowledgeably. ing program would hold certificates from SkySkopes Other businesses in the industry have founded simthat would show potential employers they are well ilar educational ventures, but SkySkopes Academy will versed in safety procedures and flight operations. be set apart from those enterprises by several factors. Gary Niemeier, a Grand Forks resident who pur“We’ll be going through audits, we’ll be going through chased a drone for agricultural and photography puraccreditation processes, we’ll be partnering with associposes, is the academy’s first graduate. He contacted ations and we’ll be collaborating with industry partners,” SkySkopes seeking flight training and completed the Dunlevy said. company’s training track, which serves as the base for Partners include public and private entities such as academy curriculum. the North Dakota University System and North Dakota As part of his experience, Niemeier received training Center for Distance Education. on several aircraft and lessons on important aeronauNorth Dakota itself is considered a hub of unmanned tical tasks such as reading weather maps and learning aircraft activity, which makes access to high-quality airspace classifications. instructors for the academy an easy task, Dunlevy said. “I think they did a good job at easing me into it,” NieIn all, about 10 to 20 students are expected to enroll meier said. “When they would put a drone up, I would in each class. More course offerings will be added as just watch. I would see what they did and see what safety the academy grows, including advanced topics such as procedures they did. I absorbed that and when I flew, I flying drones at night and an online course aimed at felt pretty comfortable.” students in grades 8-12.

Want to learn more about SkySkopes Academy? Visit

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SkySkopes President and CEO Matt Dunlevy (right) shakes hands with Minot Mayor Chuck Barney.

Open for business SkySkopes expands to Minot, partners with local engineering firm MINOT, N.D. — SkySkopes expanded its North Dakota operations in December by opening an office in Minot, which marks the company’s first location outside of Grand Forks, N.D. An event welcoming the firm to Minot, took place on Dec. 19 and saw dozens of attendees from local media, businesses and government offices. “Minot represents a military friendly community and is the perfect staging location for flight operations in western North Dakota,” SkySkopes President and CEO Matt Dunlevy said. SkySkopes specializes in the aerial inspection of energy infrastructure that includes equipment used by companies in the state’s oil patch. The new office’s

location also will allow SkySkopes to work with local entities on initiatives to further the development of the unmanned aircraft systems industry in the area. “Between military and commercial uses, there are so many opportunities for SkySkopes in Minot, and even more opportunities for the businesses that hire them,” said Stephanie Hoffart, President and CEO of the Minot Area Development Corporation. “This will be huge for Minot businesses and MADC couldn’t be more thrilled to be a part of this exciting milestone.” SkySkopes personnel are ready to begin flying from the Minot office, and Dunlevy anticipates the office growing alongside the Grand Forks headquarters as SkySkopes expands nationally.

Page 7 On a local level, SkySkopes will partner with engineering firm Ackerman-Esvoldt to give customers the best possible experience when it comes providing services. “I am very excited to welcome SkySkopes to Minot and to our business community,” Minot Mayor Chuck Barney said. “The opportunities Minot has to offer are unlimited, and I’m honored SkySkopes selected Minot for their first expansion in North Dakota. “Minot is the gateway to the Bakken and will afford SkySkopes easy access to transmission lines, pipelines, wind energy and agriculture applications. We offer a great environment for sustaining their continued growth.” With a rural setting and wide open skies, Minot — nicknamed the Magic City — is considered a prime location for UAS operations. “Welcoming SkySkopes to our Magic City is a huge achievement for Minot, as they will be the first UAS business to take advantage of our ‘Magic Sky,’” Hoffart said. SkySkopes’ arrival kicked off the MAGIC Sky initiative, which seeks to bring more UAS companies and development to Minot. This initiative combines strategic partnerships across the state to promote Minot as a top-destination for UAS companies. MAGIC Sky also represents Minot’s efforts and commitment to help foster and support the maturing of this industry.

Top: SkySkopes COO Ryan Ach (left) shows the company’s drones fleet to Ackerman-Esvoldt CAD/GIS Manager Troy Kostek. Bottom: Brian Opp, manager of aerospace business development at the N.D. Department of Commerce, speaks to the press conference crowd.

Key staff members join SkySkopes In the past six months, SkySkopes has grown its pool of talented leaders with several additions. Retired Gen. Rusty Findley joined the team in December as the senior consultant for business development. Findley comes to SkySkopes after serving 35 years in the U.S. Air Force ,which included time as vice commander of the Air Force’s Air Mobility Command. Mike Johnson came aboard as director of flight operations in October. With 12 years of aviation experience, Johnson most recently worked as chief evaluator UAS pilot for the Global Hawk program at Grand Forks Air Force Base.




Brandi Jewett started as the director of marketing and media relations in November at SkySkopes. Jewett is a former reporter for the Grand Forks Herald who covered North Dakota’s unmanned aircraft industry for several years.

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Late night flights SkySkopes receives waiver for nighttime operations MAYVILLE, N.D. — SkySkopes became the first North Dakotan unmanned aircraft systems company to receive permission from the Federal Aviation Administration to fly at night under the agency’s recently implemented UAS rules. The company completed its first set of nighttime flights successfully on Nov. 10 in cooperation with Xcel Energy as part of a research project that is exploring the use of drones to assess storm damage. Xcel Energy arranged for a drone to fly at night over staged storm damage in Mayville, to see whether thermal cameras could detect problems such as severed power lines and downed utility poles during the day and night. “Developing this technology allows us to explore ways we can improve reliability and safety to better serve our customers,” said Michael Lamb, Xcel Energy Vice President operating services and enterprise transformation office. “We’re pleased to collaborate with SkySkopes as we work to reduce outage times while also saving time and money.” The FAA approved SkySkopes’ request to operate at the night in November. Under current federal law, operating

unmanned aircraft is only allowed during the day, but commercial users can apply for waivers to conduct night operations. “These permissions are a game-changer for the North Dakotan UAS ecosystem,” SkySkopes President and CEO Matt Dunlevy said. The waiver allows SkySkopes to operate aircraft after sunset and before sunrise. Flying at night is advantageous in numerous applications for SkySkopes customers. “Night operations give SkySkopes the ability to deliver higher fidelity data solutions to our customers because of the increased effectiveness of thermal imagery,” said Mike Johnson, SkySkopes director of flight operations. Because of the cooler and more consistent temperatures at night, thermal imagery is more effective thanks to increased temperature contrast between people or objects and the surrounding environment. As part of the waiver process, SkySkopes will ensure aircraft are operated with anti-collision strobe lights and certify all pilots in the intricacies of night flying to ensure the highest level of safety during night operations.

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SkySkopes pilots pass TEEX safety audit

The Pilot View: A Sharper A6 unmanned aircraft sits ready for launch on a sunny day. Photo by SkySkopes Pilot Andrew Schill.

News & Notes Interns start with academy SkySkopes Academy’s first class of mission pilot interns came aboard in January. Twelve students enrolled in the University of North Dakota’s unmanned aircraft systems program were accepted into the program. The interns will learn the principles of flight, data analysis and other skilled related to the operation of unmanned aircraft. Also starting in January were marketing and business development interns that will assist office staff in expanding marketing and sales efforts.

Dunlevy meets with Air Force chief of staff SkySkopes President and CEO Matt Dunlevy was invited to sit in on a round table held to welcome U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff David Goldfein to Grand Forks. The round table discussion focused on unmanned aircraft systems

development in North Dakota and was hosted by U.S. Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D.

SkySkopes drones take flight at Men’s Show SkySkopes aircraft will be featured at the Grand Forks Men’s show set for late February. Pilots will fly aircraft as part of demonstrations, including live feeds to monitors in the Alerus Center arena. The Men’s Show takes place from Feb. 24 to 26.

Big crowd turns out for Lunch & Learn event Dozens turned out for a Lunch & Learn event featuring SkySkopes President and CEO Mat Dunlevy. Dunlevy gave a presentation on how to build the best team for a business. The event was hosted by the Greater Grand Forks Young Professionals.

SkySkopes pilots earned the company a passing grade in a safety credentialing audit. SkySkopes is one of the first small unmanned aircraft systems companies in the nation to pass the audit, which was created through a collaboration by Lone Star UAS Center of Excellence and Innovation and Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service. SkySkopes’ sUAS service provider audit, the sixth conducted by the program, was completed on Oct. 28 at Texas A&M University’s RELLIS campus. The company professionally, safely and successfully passed the basic audit. The audit included an extensive document review, oral examination and a live-flight audit including full launch and recovery of a drone. Pilots also received feedback on operational and safety procedure enhancements.

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On the Fly  

The official company newsletter of SkySkopes, a national leader in unmanned aircraft flight operation and training services. For more inform...