By KIRBY NEUMANN-REA
Hood River News
Calling it “an incredible moment for our company and this community,” Insitu CEO Esina Alic dedicated a 2004 ScanEagle model unmanned aircraft to Hood River’s Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum on Saturday.
“We dedicate this craft to this wonderful, wonderful museum,” Alic said during a short ceremony that was part of the annual WAAAM Fly-In. The four-foot-wide ScanEagle will be on permanent display at WAAAM along with hundreds of other museum-owned or loaned aviation and automotive items spanning the last 100 or so years.
She cited the following historical significance of the ScanEagle:
n The first UAV approved by the Federal Aviation Administration fly in national airspace system, in 2013.
n The first to fly across the Atlantic Ocean.
n “This aircraft was first used in (military) theater with Marine Corps, and in 2007 was the first unmanned aircraft deployed aboard a U.S, Navy destroyer.
“It all happened here in the Gorge. You need to be very proud that this is such a hub of innovation, and it kind of continues, it’s very special to see this aircraft in this museum so close to where it is manufactured, in Bingen, Washington We are very, very happy about it and proud to be part of local community history and continue to hope for many successes for our community.
“We thank the Gorge to continue to support us and our suppliers who are also local to the Gorge as we continue to innovate in this ever-changing industry,” Alic said, adding that ScanEagles have logged 1.2 million hours.
It is the seventh museum to receive an Insitu donation of this type. Others include National Air and Space Museum and Seattle Museum of Flight – where the ScanEagle used to rescue Capt. Philips from Somalian pirates is on display, an episode depicted in a feature film starring Tom Hanks.
The craft is currently deployed in firefighting efforts in southern Oregon and northern California, with 300 hours logged. Last year, ScanEagles were flown over Eagle Creek to protect homes and businesses in the Gorge. Recently aboard the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Stratton, it assisted in four interdictions helping crew seize more than 3,600 pounds of illicit cargo, she said.
“This small but mighty aircraft helps keep our borders safe,” she said.
Alic noted that Insitu has grown from two founders, Dr. Andy Von Flotow and Dr. Tad McGeer in 1994, to 1,600 employees worldwide, serving clients in 46 countries.
Previous museum donations from Insitu include:
2013, National Museum of the Marine Corps, Triangle, Va.
2016, Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Washington, D.C.