North Dakota site set to fly large drone without chase plane

August 13, 2018 GMT

GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) — An unmanned aircraft test site in North Dakota is set to fly its first large drone beyond sight of the pilot and without using a manned airplane to observe the flight.

The Federal Aviation Administration in 2016 allowed the Northern Plains Test Site in Grand Forks to begin flying the drones beyond visual line of sight. The facility has now been approved to fly without the chase planes.

The first flight is scheduled Tuesday at the Grand Sky aviation technology park. It will be conducted by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. The FAA contract allows the drones to fly within 30 miles of the park.

Officials say Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson is scheduled to attend an Aug. 20 event to commemorate the FAA authorization.