SEATTLE, Oct. 12, 2012--An historic ScanEagle drone aircraft used in a widely publicized hostage rescue mission has been given to The Museum of Flight. The 44-lb. aircraft, donated by its manufacturer, Bingen, Wash.-based Institu, Inc., will be temporarily displayed in the Museum Lobby beginning Oct. 16. In 2013, the plane will be permanently exhibited with other surveillance aircraft in the Museum's Great Gallery.
This particular aircraft - Number 678 - was used by the U.S. Navy during its renowned 2009 rescue of Capt. Richard Phillips, who was held hostage by Somali pirates after the hijacking of his ship, Maersk Alabama. It was one of several ScanEagles that provided real-time intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance imagery that contributed to the Phillips' rescue.
"ScanEagle fills a special place in the Museum's collection of reconnaissance aircraft," said The Museum of Flight Chief Curator, Dan Hagedorn. "The fact that this particular aircraft is a veteran of a significant, recent mission is especially valuable. It will help Museum visitors relate to the headlines of today, and with the plane's future location in the Museum's Great Gallery, one will see in a glance how aerial surveillance has progressed from the massive Blackbird of the 1960s to the diminutive ScanEagle of today."
Insitu President and CEO Steve Morrow said this week, "We are honored that ScanEagle will be represented in the museum's next chapter. This aircraft, developed, built and supported by people in the Northwest, serves globally and continues to advance the exciting journey of unmanned flight."
Photo: ScanEagle moments after takeoff from its launcher on the deck of a ship. Photo courtesy Insitu, Inc.