First ‘Vertiport’ Gets FAA Conditional Approval


The FAA has issued conditional approval for the country’s first vertiport at Allen C. Perkinson Blackstone Army Airfield (KBKT), in Blackstone, Virginia. The public-use vertiport is the cornerstone of a research project that will look into key aspects of integration of uncrewed aircraft into the National Airspace System. The project, sponsored by the Virginia government, will be carried out by NAVOS Air, a Virginia-based air navigation services company.

“The vertiport will be used as part of research on an end-to-end concept of operations NAVOS Air developed based on modifying and designing terminal instrument procedures and enroute infrastructure specifically for uncrewed aircraft system (UAS) and AAM use cases, with vertiports serving as the anchors to that system,” the news release said. The project is aimed at speeding up the integration of uncrewed aircraft by using existing infrastructure. “Designating vertiports is part of the beginning of real progress towards enabling AAM,” said NAVOS technical director Matt Burton.


Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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  1. Just curious how this all this autonomous stuff works at a towered field. Autonomous will be following all transponder and flight procedures like everyone else, right?

  2. The photo is outdated. Foreflight lists only runway 4/22 as being active–the rest is closed.

    In typical government “SNAFU” fashion, when I got out of the Army in 1968, I was supposed to be a MEDIC–but possibly because I was assigned to the Ft. Campbell, KY Base Flying Club, posted to “inactive reserve” after my active enlistment–and moved back to Minnesota. Imagine my surprise when I got back-to-back registered letters–the first moving me to “Active Reserve” and the second sending me to “Blackstone Army Airfield, Camp Pickett, Virginia.”

    I asked the VA if this could be true–I had all of my ratings, and instructor ratings–but no military MOS other than being a medic (which I never practiced). I was told “Don’t miss this–they can haul you back in!” I located Camp Pickett–it was an unused “ghost post” base near Washington, D.C.–and I had to pay my own way there from Minnesota (they later reimbursed me). Upon arrival, there were only some National Guardsmen there–and nobody had any idea why I was supposed to be there–the guess was that the former Military Occupational Specialty code for an Air Traffic Controller was very close to being a Medic (91A1). They did have some Ohio Air National Guard units there, so they let me stay with them in their tents–when they found out that I had civilian instrument instructor ratings, I flew with and signed off the military aviators in Bird Dogs and Beavers for their civil ratings–and even got a little helicopter instruction in return. When nobody could find a valid reason for me to be there, I was released–and several weeks later, I was reimbursed for my expenses.

    A “mystery trip” from Minnesota to Washington, D.C.–to a place I’d never been, for a mission that nobody knew why I had been assigned–nobody knew why I was supposed to be there–but was able to make the most of it. It actually turned out to be a GOOD experience–but it reinforced the opinion shared by most ex-military people that “Government can be counted upon to make BAD DECISIONS.”

    In the meantime, use Foreflight to check the condition and NOTAMS at KBKT–lights out, beacon out, taxiway lights out, control tower closed until Dec. 1, CFR reduced capabilities, surface markings faded……As for “Camp (Ft.) Pickett–it has been “restored” several times, and is now part of the Virginia National Guard. As a final insult, it has been renamed due to “Political Correctness”–it was named when it was built in 1942 after a Civil War General that happened to be on the Confederate side–and that couldn’t be allowed to stand even after 158 years.

    • Funny story! I suppose they didn’t need any help in the aid station? Getting called back to active duty could have been much worse…

  3. First US Vertiport — there is already one outside Paris…. Which, by the way, has led to problems for at least two of the planned “taxi routes” due to be in place for the Olympics. Turns out the makers underestimated the noise their machines register in urban environments.