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Dalrymple, General Atomics Officials Break Ground on Grand Sky UAS Training Academy
Post Date: Nov 09 2015

By ND Governor's Office
Gov. Jack Dalrymple today joined General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. CEO Linden Blue to break ground on the aviation company’s unmanned aerial systems (UAS) training academy at Grand Sky, the nation’s first operations-ready UAS business and aviation park. 
“General Atomics’ business presence at Grand Sky is a testament to the great work underway to build on North Dakota’s position as the premier destination for UAS research, development and commercialization,” Dalrymple said. “Linden and his leadership team recognize the many opportunities and advantages that North Dakota offers the growing UAS industry and we very much appreciate their investments in North Dakota.”
General Atomics is a global leader in the development of unmanned aircraft, including the Predator and Reaper series which are widely used by the U.S. Air Force.  The company is building a 19,400-square-foot hangar with adjacent offices to expand its capacity to provide state-of-the-art flight instruction for aircrews that operate its unmanned aircraft, including Air Force personnel, General Atomics pilots and international customers. Construction on the UAS training academy is expected to be completed next summer.
“North Dakota was selected as the site for our new training academy not only because it offers uncongested skies and an optimal test range, but also strong support for the continued development of unmanned aircraft capabilities from local, state, and federal government representatives,” General Atomics Aeronautical CEO Linden Blue said. “This investment in the State of North Dakota will establish North Dakota as the center of excellence for remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) training operations, and airspace integration testing and grow the number of high-tech jobs associated with these activities.” 
General Atomics’ UAS training academy will require a full-time staff of flight instructors, pilots, sensor operators, maintenance personnel, and administrators. About 25 General Atomics’ employees will staff the academy during its first year of operations.
Dalrymple last met with General Atomics officials in Washington, D.C. in September to discuss the company’s plans for Grand Sky and to offer the state’s continued assistance in developing its Grand Sky UAS training academy.
General Atomics is the second global aviation company to become a Grand Sky tenant.  Last month, Northrop Grumman broke ground on a Grand Sky facility that will support its UAS operations.
Dalrymple has led the state’s efforts to develop Grand Sky, to establish the Northern Plains UAS Test Site and to position North Dakota as the premier destination for UAS manufacturing, research and development.
In all, the state has invested more than $34 million to secure and develop one of only six national UAS test sites, to develop Grand Sky, and to support UAS research and innovation in North Dakota. The state has committed about $13 million for infrastructure projects essential to Grand Sky’s development.
Those joining Dalrymple and Blue for General Atomics’ groundbreaking included U.S. Sen. John Hoeven, U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, Congressman Kevin Cramer, Col. Rodney Lewis, commander of the 319 Air Base Wing, Grand Forks Air Force Base and North Dakota Commerce Commissioner Al Anderson.
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