Unmanned Aerial Systems

UASs took off in Stafford…
more than 100 years ago

In 1896, Samuel Pierpont Langley launched the Aerodrome No. 5, a 30-pound unmanned aircraft with a 14-foot wingspan off the coast of Chopawamsic Island, just off Stafford County’s Potomac River shores. That launch was the world’s first successful unmanned flight of an engine-driven, heavier-than-air vehicle.

Today, Unmanned Aerial Systems are much more complex than the cloth-and-wood device that Langley launched. But Stafford is still home to the type of innovation that can get new Unmanned Aerial Systems and their associated technology off the ground.

Virginia is one of nine participants in the FAA’s BEYOND program, which continues the work of the highly successful UAS Integration Pilot Program (IPP) by focusing on enabling routine, scalable operations beyond visual line of sight. Virginia leads the way with the Virginia Flight Information Exchange as a platform to publish and share advisory information with each other, UAS Service Suppliers (USS), unmanned system operators, and the public to promote transparency and public safety.


Submarket Snapshot:

  • Home to Marine Corp Base Quantico, close proximity to Washington DC, and a strong foundation of DoD contractors Stafford County is primed unmanned systems companies to succeed.
  • With its expansion to a 6,000LF runway Stafford Regional Airport (RMA) is ready to grow into a full-service corporate airport.  With multiple pad-ready sites SRA is strategically positioned for the location of early-stage maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) companies, and fixed-base operations (FBO) UAS/UAV companies.
  • With access to one of the most educated talent pools in the country Stafford (regionally) is home to over 31,000 current/former service members, many of whom hold active security clearances.
  • Connected within a strong regional and state-wide UAS ecosystem including the Virginia Unmanned Systems Center at VIPC and The Unmanned Systems Association of Virginia (USAV).


Josh Summits

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