Gig East forum shows off drone tech

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Drone enthusiasts and professional operators joined forces last week for an informal meeting to talk tech.

“Thursday’s Gig East meetup was the first in a new series of events that will focus on Wilson’s efforts in innovation and entrepreneurship,” said Will Aycock, general manager of Greenlight Community Broadband. “These events are a component of our community’s overall InnovateNC efforts and will help set the stage for this year’s flagship Gig East event in November.”

Staff from Raleigh-based Go Unmanned were on hand to talk about the possibilities of unmanned aerial vehicles, also known as drones. Manager Richard Mankin noted that people are the highest expense in the aviation industry, showing several videos of helicopter crashes before a compilation of drone mishaps brought more laughs than alarm from the crowd at 217 Brew Works.

“Drones won’t replace helicopters, but they can perform about one-third of what they can do for 1 percent of the cost,” he said.

While a crash by a drone is less than desirable, Mankin said unmanned vehicles are expendable — unlike the lives of aircraft pilots and crews. Go Unmanned highlighted the use of drones for private and public operations, including quicker and cheaper deployment during wildfires and rescue missions.

“The industry is wide open for opportunities to use drones, and we find new uses every day,” said Dan Colley, Raleigh sales representative for Go Unmanned.

Mike Jablonski used the meetup to purchase a drone from a fellow member in the Tar Heel R/C Flyers club and learn about new technology. The Wilson resident said he’s been flying remote-controlled aircraft for 12 years but got into the world of drones within the past few years.“I’m not surprised to see this in Wilson because drone technology and commercial uses apply to any town, big or small,” he said. “They are being used in all sorts of businesses.”

To learn more about Go Unmanned and drone technology, visit www.gounmanned.com.

bhandgraaf@wilsontimes.com | 265-7821