At event at UND, drone industry leaders encourage public to fly safely

About half a dozen UAS companies and operators in the Grand Forks area came to UND to talk to the public about how their drones are utilized.

Mike Gavere, chief pilot for the Northeast Region Unmanned Aircraft System unit, talks to members of the public about how the organization utilizes unmanned aircraft systems. (Sydney Mook / Grand Forks Herald)

The holiday season is nearly here, as is the gift-giving season.

A potentially popular gift this year? A drone.

But while a drone may be an exciting gift for pilots and photographers, Nicholas Flom, executive director of the Northern Plains Unmanned Aircraft Systems Test Site, is encouraging people to register their drones and follow all the rules of flight.

No matter if someone gets a drone for Christmas or buys one for photography, Flom said it’s important that everyone flies safely.

Flom, along with other drone industry leaders, spent time speaking to members of the public about drone safety during the Federal Aviation Administration’s inaugural National Drone Safety Week cap-off event Saturday at UND.


“One of the ways that we want to continue to push the safety of the drone industry is through education, and people who are part of this group here, we're already the ones who are educated. But we need to help spread that message,” he said.

National Drone Safety Awareness Week is designed to educate the public about drone safety by highlighting how key sectors of the drone community are engaging with the public. Saturday, about half a dozen UAS companies and operators in the Grand Forks area came to UND to talk to the public about how their drones are utilized. The Northeast Region Unmanned Aircraft System unit also came to the event to show how law enforcement and first-responders utilize drones in their work.

The regional team is a collaboration between the Grand Forks County Sheriff’s Office, Grand Forks Police Department, UND Police Department, Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the Grand Forks Fire Department.

“As the epicenter and Silidrone Valley, we know secure drone use fosters adoption, it fosters innovation, it fosters commercialization and it fosters new opportunities for pilots, for industry, for research and for consumers,” Mayor Mike Brown said.

Brown said the Northern Plains Test Site is leading the way in drone safety and innovation.

Flom noted that the uses for drones are endless, from taking aerial photos and fixing transmission lines to package delivery and ensuring a bridge is structurally sound. He said Grand Forks -- all of North Dakota -- has been and can continue to be a leader in the UAS industry.

“Together we, as the best UAS community, will continue to be the epicenter of innovative, safe and exciting developments in this industry,” Brown said.

Sydney Mook has been the managing editor at the Herald since April 2021. In her role she edits and assigns stories and helps reporters develop their work for readers.

Mook has been with the Herald since May 2018 and was first hired as the Herald's higher education reporter where she covered UND and other happenings in state higher education. She was later promoted to community editor in 2019.

For story pitches contact her at or call her at 701-780-1134.
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