The quest for unpiloted air taxi service took a step forward yesterday as Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe became the first sitting governor to fly in a fully automated aircraft. The 8-minute flight took place Thursday following the opening of NASA’s Wallops Island Flight Research Center unmanned aerial systems (UAS) runway on Virginia’s eastern shore.
The Governor solidified his commitment to supporting emerging UAS technology by flying in Aurora’s Centaur optionally-piloted aircraft (OPA). Aurora was chosen to demonstrate Centaur’s unmanned capabilities during the ribbon cutting, showcasing its leadership in the development and manufacturing of advanced unmanned systems and aerospace vehicles. The flight comes one week after the Governor’s announcement establishing the Commonwealth’s Autonomous Systems Center of Excellence to increase Virginia’s position as a leader of the Autonomous Systems community.
“I am thrilled to be the first Governor to fly in an unmanned aircraft, and in our great state of Virginia,” said Governor McAuliffe. “I have witnessed first-hand the impact that the UAS industry will have on the future of transportation and our lives will change as we know it. You will be able to do just what I did today – hop in a plane, press a button and the machine takes you where you want to go! This is real technology and we’re the driving force by establishing Virginia as the world leader in unmanned flights.”