- By Jasmine Stole Weiss
Bella Wings Aviation's drones can entertain, advertise and save lives
Residents can thank Bella Wings Aviation for the electrifying Liberation Day light show in Tumon this year but a light show that rivaled the traditional fireworks display is just one of the ways Bella Wings plans to make an impact on the community.
Its latest venture is sure to raise some eyebrows. More specifically, the newest Bella Wings endeavor will have residents lifting their gaze to find impressive advertising banners made airborne thanks to drones.
On July 30, Bella Wings revealed it would be offering airborne advertising, with the help of Island Color Copy.
At a press conference on the roof of the Tumon Sands Plaza, CEO and Co-Founder Charlie Hermosa navigated a controller as a drone affixed with two banners floated to the sky. One banner had the Bella Wings logo. Opposite that was another sign, “Your ad here,” inviting interested residents to share their own floating message.
“(It’s) for any commercial use, private parties,” Hermosa said. “We’ve gotten requests for ‘Will you marry me?’, ‘Happy Birthdays,’ graduation parties. So there’s a lot of things that are coming down the pipeline as far as advertising and a lot of unique ways we can use the drones to be able to capture that.”
In addition to flying banners and flashing lights, Bella Wings will soon delve into the delivery market. Meal courtesy of Chili’s will be the first food delivery by drone, Hermosa said. It will be the first commercial drone delivery on Guam, he added.
But it won’t be the only type of delivery the Bella Wings crew will handle. Whether you’re living in a house or under a tree or sailing the sea, if the folks behind Bella Wings get their way, you’ll never be out of reach.
Hermosa said Bella Wings intends to build the drone industry so that everyone on Guam—and eventually all of Micronesia— can get medicine, food, or life-saving aids delivered via drone.
Hermosa, alongside COO and co-founder Pearla Cordero, combined their passions and launched in Bella Wings in November 2020.
“She has a passion for aviation. I have a passion for logistics. One of the things we wanted to look at was how do we find a way to be able to get access to deliveries for everybody here on the island?” Hermosa said. “By access, we mean critical needs such as medicine, what people need for emergencies.”
Since their launch, Bella Wings has been running tests with different organizations, opening the door to a world possibility. They’ve been testing different kinds of drones, including drones that can carry heavy payloads and drones that would help in emergency search and rescue situations.
“We have worked with (the Guam Fire Department)…to create an operation that could save lives,” Hermosa said. “We have drones that could drop life vests, lines to be able to pull people back in.”
There are infrared drones that can search at night for people lost in the jungle, he added.
Bella Wings also paired up with Chicago-based company Valqari, a partnership that will allow drone delivery of pharmaceuticals and packages to any Guam customer, even those without a formal address, according to the Valqari CEO.
Governments worldwide are looking to leverage drone technology. Guam law recently added drones to the list of industries that can avail of the Guam Economic Development Authority’s qualifying certificate program, which is a financial incentive for drone companies. Bella Wings is working with companies interested in establishing a presence on the island.
In a city in Virgina, Wing, which is owned by Google’s parent company Alphabet, has been operating drones since October 2019. Last year Wing started delivering coffee and pastries from a Virginia coffeeshop to customers. Flytrex drones drop food and grocery orders in North Carolina. The United Kingdom’s Royal Mail will test package deliveries by drone as other countries eye or invest in drone mail delivery systems.
It’s not far-fetched to imagine similar advances made on Guam and soon, according to Hermosa.
“Our vision is to create a network to allow access to these types of deliveries across the entire region, from Guam to Saipan to (the Federated States of Micronesia) to Palau to the Marshall Islands,” Hermosa said. “To be able to, in a minute’s notice, transport blood, medicine to Palau for example.”
That vision also includes transporting people.
“It’s not far-fetched but we also are going to start talking about moving people via drones,” Hermosa said. “I know people are going to think I’m crazy.”
But, Hermosa said, their company is looking to create a way to provide drone taxis and move a severely sick person from, for example, their home in the south straight to the hospital.
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This will happen and it’s only a matter of time, Hermosa said.
The company is armed with proper licensing and clearance from the Federal Aviation Authority. Sometimes, however, regulatory agencies don’t always move as quickly as the technology it oversees. That can sometimes pose a hurdle, according to Hermosa.
The weather too might be an obstacle for drones. Those issues, however, don’t deter Hermosa and Cordero. For them, the skies are clear for Bella Wings drones to take off and take over the region.