he coronavirus may have altered the trajectory but certainly not the lift for Skyborne Technology. The designer and developer of manned and unmanned aerial systems is nearing completion of it first airship. Launch should come sometime last summer, August the month of focus for President and CEO Mike Lawson, who added that the airship is about 65 percent complete. The fight deck is currently under construction at Port St. Joe’s Monumental Fabrication. Partners have already come aboard and more are pledged upon the initial launch and demonstration of the capabilities of the airship. A new facility at the Costin Airport in Port St. Joe is in the works to complement Skyborne’s first U.S. manufacturing plant in Wewahitchka. “We are pretty darned excited about where we are,” Lawson said. “What we have come up with is a total package where you have an airship and a drone package.” The new airship, let us call it the mothership, is a unique creation. Tethered, the mothership is made of fabric that carries strength beyond Kevlar and is, in effect, a hot air balloon on steroids. Lawson said he pilots would train with a hot air balloon. In addition to the lifting helium, the mothership, 70-feet in diameter, is comprised of layers of fabric around an aluminum frame, the outer envelope holding the cockpit/cabin, which is framed in aluminum. The tethered airship, providing for seating for two crew members plus one more, will be capable of maintaining a certain altitude for a prolonged length of time. “It has to fly high enough to be a cell tower and maintain its height,” Lawson said. Employing proprietary software which arrived courtesy of recent merger, the airship will be able to uplink and download communication and data. In other words, while tethered and floating, the mothership has the capability to provide cell phone service to those on the ground (that was absent after Michael) as well as visual tracking, say for survivors. In addition, the mothership will include drones, connected to the flight deck, which can be deployed, information from the drones downloaded. The entire operation, with all technology deployed, could be operated from the living room. “As a disaster relief package, this is something the public would definitely say it wants,” Lawson said. “This works. This is a full system where you have everything. “We have experience and partners with experience who have done it.” And, Lawson added, the company’s efforts fold into the efforts at the two public high schools, the college and others in the industry. At the high school level “engage and energize” students about the technology option involved. Gulf Coast State College’s proposed “boot camp for exiting military” Lawson characterized as an awesome program. Lawson said he also had pledges from other companies considering a move to Gulf County for the very reasons Skyborne came, the water and land assets for training and manufacturing, with the added bonus of Skyborne’s presence. “We are going to be able to combine all these assets and be able to link everybody and advance the ball on so many levels,” Lawson said. One of the biggest disruptions that arrived with coronavirus, Lawson added, was locating seamstresses needed to complete the mothership. So if anyone out there knows someone who enjoys and is good at sewing, Lawson would love to hear from you.