The DART SA 70-12 airship, shown here in Wewahitchka, is to be moved to the company airport in Port St. Joe this summer. [ UAV Corp. ]
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Skyborne expands, as new airport envisioned

Skyborne Technology, Inc. has opened a new office and hangar at the former Costin Airfield it owns in Gulf County south of Port St. Joe, paving the road for upcoming advanced testing and flight operations for manned and unmanned vehicles that it builds.

At the same time, county officials are moving forward with a plan to build a multi-million airport about four miles northeast of Port St. Joe, between the Gulf County canal and Highway 71, on 1,000 acres of former St. Joe Company property.

Michael Lawson, CEO of Skyborne Technology, said he is getting ready to schedule an open house either in June or July for the public to visit his airfield facilities and view the Detachable Airship Retractable Tether (DART) airship, which it makes in Wewahitchka.

Skyborne also has opened a new office in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in conjunction with the Osage Nation tribe, for High Altitude Airship manufacturing, Lawson said. In addition, the company has created a wholly owned subsidiary, Skyborne Central America, LLC, to pursue business opportunities in the Caribbean, Central America, and Mexico for the DART. 

Lawson said several guests from government agencies both domestic and international, academia, industry partners and commercial customers have been invited to attend the upcoming open house.

The company also is planning a groundbreaking for the construction of a state-of-the-art 300-foot drone hangar. One month ago, Skyborne moved into five offices within the former Blackfin Construction building, which they will occupy until the new hangar is built.

“Skyborne Technology is thrilled about its grand opening of the new office and hangar facility as a significant step to bolster manned and unmanned aircraft capabilities,” said Lawson. “We believe these advanced aerial platforms will be a game changer for disaster relief, communications, surveillance, border security, precision agriculture as well as many other critical missions.”

County Administrator Michael Hammond said the county’s plan to build a new airport dates back 15 years, and is now back on track due to major delays from Hurricane Michael.

Three years ago, the county got just short of $1 million in government funding for the project, and that was followed up by another $2.5 million, with another $1 million in the state budget that now awaits Gov. Ron DeSantis’ signing.

“We hope this time next year to have permits in hand and federal approval,” said Hammond. “A new airport is probably three to four years off.”

Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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