“Drones are a pandora’s box of value” says Matt Dunlevy, CEO & Chairman for SkySkopes, a professional Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) company based in Grand Forks, ND. The company started in 2014, after Dunlevy picked up the idea that Grand Forks was the perfect place to start a UAS company with skilled pilots and UAS subject matter experts.
Dunlevy drives the vision for SkySkopes with his unwavering passion for aviation that “runs in his blood”. He was hooked with his first solo flight in a glider at the age of 14 and first UAS system piloting at age 15. Inspired by his grandfather, a pilot in WWII and having piloted gliders throughout his lifetime, Dunlevy has shared his passion with students as an instructor at the University of North Dakota (UND) since 2014.
As part of the teaching staff at UND, Dunlevy is proud of UND students, highlighting that North Dakota pilots are impressive – they have great situational awareness, a huge emphasis on safety, solid aviation decision making abilities, and components training. SkySkopes hand picks students from some of the best institutions including UND, Kansas State and Embry Riddle to plan and fly their missions.
SkySkopes has built a reputation for problem solving using UAS systems in a variety of ways to safely and effectively get the job done. Dunlevy touts that “every day is different, garnering a lot of our passion, nothing in the world is quite like it, when getting out on a drone operation.” So many hours of preparation go into each mission. Using their drone-based powerline stringing operation as an example, with intensive preflight planning, utilizing the right drones to be able to articulate and maneuver the powerlines and carry the literal weight that the job required was “half of the fun”. This is where, Dunlevy says, so much of the team’s passion and skills come out. Safety is top priority, and if drones with skilled pilots and teams like SkySkopes can safely and efficiently do what has traditionally been dangerous work, passion can be rewarded. Each achievement continues to push imaginations and capabilities of drone use further and further into the future.
With tight regulations from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the US has some of the safest airspace in the world, but there are still regulations with beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) missions. “The pilots in the US have lot of hoops to jump through to get advanced permissions such as BVLOS, and that makes our skies more safe” says Dunlevy; that also means pilots are well trained and take on many new challenges. With the FAA moving towards drone operation beyond line of visual sight, there will be more ingenuity on what can be accomplished with UAS pilots and systems. North Dakota Legislature has backed UAS technology with several players in the state with the hopes that ND will become a leader for this industry.
SkySkopes has been at the forefront in advocating innovation as boundaries BVLOS are being pushed, with successes internationally. The future of UAS is BVLOS, flying in similar ways to manned aircraft, miniaturizing the UAS technologies, such as radar and onboard equipment to make many projects safer, and more efficient.
SkySkopes is also making international and local impact during the recent pandemic, showing that drones can effectively be used to deliver supplies and sanitize high traffic areas, such as playgrounds and other community areas.
Working with the NDTO’s professional networks we were able to assist SkySkopes in procuring ethically sourced materials for their operations. The NDTO team connected SkySkopes with companies able to assist in procuring antiseptics, sanitization chemicals and other products needed for the drone chemical application project. as well as promoting their capabilities domestically and internationally. SkySkopes is expanding in many directions with innovative solutions as the need and uses for drones are boundless.
For more information on SkySkopes, please visit https://www.skyskopes.com/