Ross Perot, Jr. believes the 26,000-acre Fort Worth Alliance Airport complex in Texas is just the place to develop and test a new generation of delivery drones and passenger eVTOL aircraft. Beginning in the 1980s, Perot’s Hillwood Development donated the land for the public-use airport and developed adjacent industrial, retail, and 10,000 residential properties.
Today, more than 525 companies and 61,000 employees are part of the Alliance complex that includes logistics hubs and high-tech facilities for Amazon, UPS, Santa Fe Railroad, and Facebook, and Perot is known as the most powerful real estate developer in Texas. He is a big backer of new technology, hosting the TexasUP summit of industry investors in urban air mobility last year and driving the formation of a “mobility zone” at Alliance.
Referring to that property, Perot said, “We have a big lab” for UAS and eVTOL trials, including residential home delivery. Perot envisions a future where heavy-lift drones would be used to move rail shipping containers and working with industry to bring clients to Alliance for the manufacture, training in, and maintenance of these and other new-generation aircraft.
Speaking at the Air Force’s “Agility Prime” virtual conference in May, Perot stressed the historical importance of military programs as a catalyst for breakthroughs in civil aviation that included GPS navigation and transformational aircraft such as the Boeing 707 and 747. He sees the military playing the same role today with eVTOLs. “The Air Force’s vision gives the industry the courage to take the risk to develop technologies for our military, then have tremendous civilian-use spinoffs and have had a huge economic impact on the world today.”
Despite the current Covid-19-generated crisis and industry skepticism with regard to UASs and eVTOLs, Perot sees them as inevitable. “We’re going to improve the human race and give people a much better life with these new flying products. I see this as the [same] opportunity that we saw back in the 1930s when [commercial] aviation started coming to life. Billions of people around the world will benefit.” He characterized the market as potentially worth $1.6 trillion and called it a “revolution in aircraft [that's] going to be here before we know it.”
A former U.S. Air Force F-4 fighter pilot and world-record-setting helicopter pilot, Perot said he is personally eager to take the controls of an eVTOL. “I’m ready…I’m always ready to fly.”