‘coolest The company’ Unmanned aircraft–maker Insitu has retained its innovative culture, by design By Diane Stratman and Eric Fetters-Walp Like many of the men and women who work for Insitu in and around Bingen, Wash., Jerry McWithey loves the recreational opportunities available in an area of the Pacific Northwest that overlooks the picturesque Columbia River Gorge. With its often-howling winds, the “Gorge” is one of the best places on the planet for windsurfing. Nearby are mountains to hike and bike in summer, or ski and snowboard in winter. Boating and kayaking are popular. People come here to play and never want to leave. “How can you not love it here?” said McWithey, director of Flight Operations for Insitu. “Being sports enthusiasts, we definitely know how to have a good time. “But, bottom line, play is play and work is work,” he added. “When it comes to work, we understand how critical our products are to those deployed in the trenches: the Marine, the sailor, the soldier in harm’s way. We want the product that leaves here to be cutting edge, to be the best it can possibly be.” Insitu is a wholly owned subsidiary of Boeing and a pioneer in unmanned aircraft systems. Insitu’s roots go back to the company’s founder and a handful of windsurfing-loving employees who, in the late 1990s, designed and built a small unmanned aircraft 20 BOEING FRONTIERS / JUNE 2013 PHOTOS: (Below) Jennifer Sofinowski, left, and Hannah Rasmussen, both with Insitu Flight Operations, prepare a ScanEagle for flight and place it on a launcher. (Insets, clockwise from top left) Sofinowski holds ScanEagle; the unmanned aircraft’s electro-optic turret; a view of the Columbia River Gorge; Rasmussen, left, and Sofinowski place a propeller guard on the launcher; Sofinowski, from left, Robert Dulka, also with Flight Operations, and Rasmussen position a ScanEagle on a launcher.
Frontiers June 2013 Issue
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