Second annual Air and Drone Technology Show takes flight at Washington-Warren Airport

Published 2:51 pm Saturday, September 30, 2023

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By Ellen Brabo, For Washington Daily News

The excitement is building in Beaufort County as the Second Annual Air and Drone Technology Show approaches, set to take place on Oct. 13-14 at the Washington-Warren Airport (OCW) located at 200 Airport Road in Washington. With an expanded agenda and a renewed commitment to engaging the local community, this year’s event promises to be even more dynamic than its inaugural edition.

 The event, overseen by Xelevate and hosted by the Washington-Warren Airport, is a testament to the region’s growing prominence in the world of aviation and drone technology.

 “There is an enormous amount of time, effort, and planning gone into ensuring that the airshow is not only fun but safe,” explained Earl Malpass, Airport Director. “[Planning for the event] began six months ago. We’ve worked closely with the [Federal Aviation Administration] to ensure we comply with all airshow requirements.”

 The schedule boasts a diverse range of topics, ranging from Department of Defense (DoD) policies to drone forensics. Marcy Eisenberg, President of Xelevate, explained that these topics were chosen based on stakeholder needs, capabilities, and limitations, with a focus on moving the industry forward.

 “At Xelevate, we see trends first before the majority of the industry because we’re technologically agnostic, so partnering with OCW to answer these trends was a natural next step,” said Eisenberg.

 There will be breakout sessions providing essential information about the modernization of the airport and the opportunities it’s creating for Eastern North Carolina. Additionally, attendees can look forward to drone demonstrations and aerobatic performances by National Aerobatic Champions, including New-Bern native Hubie Tolson and the reigning National Champion, Rob Holland.

 Malpass revealed that this year’s manned performances will be similar to last year’s, but with the added enhancement of a jumbotron screen to improve visibility of the smaller drone performances. For robotics enthusiasts, live robotics demonstrations will also be on display, making it a truly thrilling day for tech aficionados.

 One of the standout improvements this year is the heightened focus on community involvement. This includes more information for the community on how they can benefit from the aviation industry and resources for finding high-paying jobs within it.

 “The airport and Xelevate took the feedback from the survey we sent out last year very seriously, and we’re trying to cater to those requests,” explained Eisenberg.

 Saturday, Oct. 14, is dedicated to the local community, offering an immersive experience in the world of emerging aviation technology. Activities will be available for all ages, making it a family-friendly outing. Attendees can participate in hands-on drone flying, explore STEM activities, and even take airport tours.

 For the little ones, there will be a planetarium in a hangar, drone soccer, paper airplane contests and pumpkin painting – ensuring a day filled with excitement for all ages. There will also be a STEM/Education/Workforce Development expo on-site, showcasing resources for community members interested in engaging with the drone technology industry.

 “The Washington-Warren Airport plays a key role in economic development in our community,” said Malpass. “We would like our guests to enjoy an aviation family event, experience what the next frontier in aviation looks like, and realize the opportunities available to our youth, hopefully, right here at the airport in the coming years.”

For more information and the full event agenda, visit