On the first day of the 2022 Commercial UAV Expo, five busloads of UAV professionals assembled at Henderson Equestrian Park in Las Vegas to witness a series of live drone flying demonstrations. A regular and much-anticipated event at the Expo, the flying demos were sponsored by Sundance Media Group (SMG). The company has been involved in the demonstrations since 2014.
“There’s been tremendous growth,” said Douglas Spotted Eagle, the original co-founder of SMG. “We’ve gone from being an event with one or two vendors saying, ‘hey, let's just put a drone up in the air let people see it fly’ to seeing mission-specific design presentations to show the vertical specific to or the application specific to the uses of the aircraft.”
This year’s event featured demonstrations from several industry leaders: Ascent AeroSystems, Autel Robotics, Commaris, Frontier Precision and YellowScan, Skydio, Skyfront, Volatus Aerospace, and Wingtra. The participation of these companies, Spotted Eagle asserted, demonstrate how the flying demo event has grown in both size and focus.
“In the past, it felt more like a ‘meet up,’” he said. “Now, we're seeing eVTOLs, we're seeing hybridized systems, we’re seeing tracking missions, and more.”
Jennifer Pidgen, SMG’s owner and COO, explained that SMG’s involvement in the flying demonstrations fits well with the mission of the company. “We've been a training organization for 29 years, and we have a long history in video, audio, and lighting, but about 12 years ago now, we were 100% pulled into the drone world” because when more and more companies started production equipment on drones.
“We've been part of the industry, and we’ve grown with the different vertical needs,” Pidgen explained.
Based on their company’s years of experience with the drone flying demos, Pidgen and Spotted have seen growth in the industry and in the ways UAV professionals interact and collaborate.
“There’s more to this than just flying drones,” Pidgen stated. “There are all the supporting aspects to the drone industry, everything from maintaining the drones to building the drones to the administrative side. So, there's a lot of collaboration, and everyone's trying to learn from one another. There's certainly a lot of enthusiasm for the industry.”