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Galaxy Unmanned Systems Takes Flight With Remote-Controlled Blimps

The Fort Worth startup designs aircraft for commercial and military applications.

Galaxy Unmanned Systems co-founders Jason White (left) and Tony White (right). | Photo: Galaxy Unmanned Systems

Sure, the latest initiatives from the Teslas, Apples and Googles of the industry tend to dominate the tech news space — and with good reason. Still, the tech titans aren’t the only ones bringing innovation to the sector.

In an effort to highlight up-and-coming startups, Built In has launched The Future 5 across 11 major U.S. tech hubs. Each quarter, we will feature five tech startups, nonprofits or entrepreneurs in each of these hubs who just might be working on the next big thing. Read our round-up of Dallas’s rising startups from last quarter here.

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Step aside, Goodyear. There’s a new blimp company in town, and this one doesn’t require a pilot.

Galaxy Unmanned Systems (GUS) is a Fort Worth company that designs, engineers and manufactures unmanned aircraft that can be operated from the ground with a remote control. Its blimps have been designed for military applications, like carrying smaller drones to their destination, and commercial uses, such as shooting aerial HD video of a National Hot Rod Association race for ESPN.

GUS was created by brothers Tony and Jason White. Inspired by their father’s work making proportional radios for the remote control hobby industry, the two boys grew up flying remote-controlled airplanes for fun. 

In 2000, they formed their first iteration of the company, which they operated until 2009 when the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) restricted commercial drone operations from U.S. air space. With the boom in cheap commercial drones in 2013, the FAA decided in 2015 to create a restriction waiver process for aircraft that weighs less than 55 pounds.

“[We] are doing all we can to support broader airspace integration for all drone stakeholders.”

Jason White, co-founder and managing partner at GUS, said in a statement that the company relaunched in 2014, with the goal of showing the utility of drones in hopes of avoiding another era of restrictive regulations.

“In our current relaunch, we are doing all we can to ensure no other business has to go through that and as such, are doing all we can to support broader airspace integration for all drone stakeholders,” Jason White said. “This includes using our inherently safe platforms as use case development platforms for other systems, as airships are the safest most efficient way to carry the heaviest ‘stuff’ where a ‘catastrophe’ is more comedic than catastrophic. Our [government] innovation contracts are equal parts systems development and data acquisition for government regulators so that drone regulation can transition from operation by exclusion (waivers) to full legal operation based on a robust legal framework.” 

GUS currently has a team of about five to six employees. The company has been able to support its operations through government contracts. Jason White said the company may seek investor funding in the future to transition its prototypes into commercial applications.

Jason White said the company plans to eventually open a headquarters for operations, sustainment and maintenance of its fleet, along with regional offices to support flights across the U.S.


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