INYOKERN — Inyokern Airport received a rare treat when it hosted a respected engineer and aerospace innovator Monday morning.
Abraham Karem from Karem Aircraft, Inc. toured IYK and its facilities, and spoke with Eileen Shibley from Cal UAS Portal.
Karem, an Israeli engineer, once worked as the chief designer for the Israeli Air Force. He has been labeled as the father of the modern drone, paving the way for the engineering behind modern Predator.
Karem led the design team for the Amber unmanned vehicle for the Defense Department, which was designed in the 1980s. The Amber was a prototype to be used for photo reconnaissance and other purposes, but the project was discontinued in 1990.
Karem’s history with drones began in 1973 during the Yom Kippur War. His team designed a drone to act as a decoy against Egyptian and Syrian forces while Israeli jet fighters performed bombing attacks.
The Economist magazine in December 2012 quoted Karem as saying he was never the guy who wanted to put missiles on the Predator. Instead, his main goal was to see that UAVs perform with the same safety and reliability standards as manned aircraft.
Shibley, who heads up Cal UAS Portal’s effort to secure a test site designation from the Federal Aviation Administration to safely test unmanned systems, said that Karem’s visit was a huge honor.
“He is considered the father of the Predator,” Shibley said. “He is the historical reference for all of us (in unmanned systems).”
Shibley said that Karem may “see something in Inyokern.”
“He seems to know and fully understand the history of (Naval Air Weapons Station) China Lake and what it has brought to the table as far as intellectual capital for unmanned systems,” Shibley said. “I think he might think that Inyokern is the place to do unmanned systems.”
Scott Seymour, IYK’s general manager, said on Tuesday that it was great to host Karem.
“He has a lot of insight into the industry,” Seymour said. “The guy is a legend.”
While the Daily Independent did not receive a chance to speak with Karem, a spokesman from Karem Industries commented Tuesday on his visit to IYK.
“Abe enjoyed the visit very much, and was excited to see the way in which the group there has been able to integrate the best assets of the Inyokern Airport and China Lake,” Ben Tigner said, on behalf of Karem, by email on Tuesday.
Tigner, who accompanied Karem during the visit to Inyokern on Monday, stressed the importance of the people on the ground.
“The team is really the key asset,” Tigner said. “This combination is likely to attract some of the best in future development of UAVs.”
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