EASTMAN, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – In a lift off of epic proportions, a drone took to the Eastman skies on Wednesday to be studied and tested for future technology.
Crews with Area-I, a Kennesaw-based research and development company, spent the day testing the PTERA (Prototype Technology Evaluation Research Aircraft). NASA awarded the company a contract to design the million dollar unmanned aerial vehicle for testing.
As the small aircraft glided independently through the skies, a traveling trailer "cockpit" guided the flight using only a joystick.
This was the second time in history a drone has taken off from the Heart of Georgia Regional Airport.
"We are learning things that we hope will help these aircraft fly safely and more efficiently," said Nicholas Alley, Area-I CEO.
While his crews learned about the PTERA's travel, students in the Middle Georgia State College aviation classrooms learned how a drone was developed. Students like Zack Hartley, helped create this PTERA and are working to build drones for the future.
"We do a lot of groundbreaking things," Hartley said, "we get some of the best work experience with everything we do."
Alley said Area-I plans to work with NASA and the aviation school to produce several more prototypes for testing.