The Empire Unmanned team has the expertise you need! With over 25,000 hours of combined UAV flight time, we have unmatched experience ranging from programs and data systems to fighter jets and cargo planes. Our team has a combined total of over 100 years of aeronautical experience. In addition, team members have backgrounds in education, the military, flight operations, and logistical airfield support. This means you not only get our services, but a wealth of knowledge and experience unparalleled in the UAV industry. Whether you need aerial photos, data maps, contours, or anything aerial, at Empire Unmanned, we can do that!
Tim Komberec is President & CEO of Empire Airlines and the company’s two divisions, Empire Aerospace and Empire Unmanned. He was born and raised in Montana. After completing high school, he moved to Seattle, Washington to work for Boeing Company as an experimental machinist until entering and serving three years of active duty in the U.S. Army. Upon leaving the Army, Tim returned to Seattle to attend Seattle Community College and to pursue his flying career.
Tim has been actively involved in aviation since 1971. He has held senior management positions with several airlines and has logged over 13,000 hours as an airline pilot, check airman and instructor. He is an Airline Transport Pilot with type ratings in several aircraft.
Tim’s career has covered many aspects of the aviation business. He has negotiated and administered labor contracts, worked with the certification of several airlines, established and managed both large and small flight and maintenance operations departments, flown thousands of hours, and managed aircraft fleets from small turbo props to large jet aircraft.
Tim currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Regional Airline Association, the Regional Air Cargo Carriers Association, the Kootenai County Airport Advisory Board, the Idaho Economic Advisory Council and the Executive Board of the North Idaho College Foundation. He has also given back to the community through his service to several nonprofit organizations. Tim and his wife Linda reside in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
Steve Edgar –
Steve Edgar is a Co-Founder of Empire Unmanned. With over forty years of aviation experience, Steve has operated and instructed in over seventeen types of aircraft ranging from single-seat military fighter aircraft to wide-body commercial aircraft. He has flown the Boeing 737, Airbus 320/319, B757-767 and B777, as well as the RQ-4 Global Hawk Unmanned Aircraft System in support of combat troops in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. In addition, Steve has flown unmanned aircraft humanitarian missions in Japan and North America.
He is a veteran of the 1991 Gulf War, where he flew the F-117A Stealth Fighter on combat missions in Iraq and Kuwait. Steve has amassed over 10,000 flight hours in his aviation career. He is also an FAA rated Air Traffic Controller in both Tower and Radar operations, and has served in both appointed and elected leadership roles in private, union, government, and military organizations.
Steve holds several academic degrees ranging from a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and a Master of Public Administration to an Education Specialist (EdSp.) degree from the University of Idaho. He and his family moved to Star, Idaho in 1998 and they have resided there since.
Brock Lipple –
Brock Lipple is GIS Director for Empire Unmanned, and manages the day-to-day GIS operations in addition to aiding technical and VO field assistance.
Brock was first introduced to GIS while working for the National Park Service in Idaho. He was employed at Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument surveying paleontological sites. He then went on to work for the State of Idaho Environmental Management Office, Military Division.
He holds a B.A. in Environmental Studies from Boise State University. In 2013, Brock received a teaching and research assistantship from Idaho State University where he researched land cover change. During this time, he also completed a MS in Geographic Information Science.
Brock is a Boise, Idaho native who enjoys fly fishing, camping, and cycling. Additionally, he is a musician who enjoys playing in bands or around a campfire.
Brad Ward –
Brad Ward brings over eleven years of experience in unmanned aircraft systems to the company. He is Empire Unmanned’s Co-Founder, Partner and Past-President. Brad has been highly instrumental in creating Empire Unmanned’s foundation and success. He has developed commercial applications for UAS technology, and given numerous UAS presentations to government, academic and civic organizations throughout the country in behalf of Empire Unmanned.
Brad has both military and civilian flight and aerospace experience. He entered the Air Force in 1992, receiving his commission from the United States Air Force Academy. He served as the Commander of the 12th Reconnaissance Squadron at Beale AFB, CA; Director of Operations for the 432d Operations Support Squadron at Creech AFB, NV; and as the UAS Career Field Manager at Headquarters Air Force, Pentagon. He is a command pilot with more than 4,000 flying hours in the KC-135, C-12, MQ-1, and RQ-4 aircraft.
He holds a Master’s of Business Administration from Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri. Brad also holds a Bachelor’s of Science Degree from the US Air Force Academy and a certificate in CNC Machining from Spokane Community College. He is also an adjunct professor at Whitworth University where he teaches Engineering Graphics and Manufacturing Processes.
He moved to Spokane, Washington after his last Air Force assignment and is married to his Academy classmate, Chaundra (McCanna) Ward of Spokane. They have been married for 24 years and have 7 children. Brad is an active member of his church where he teaches Sunday School and has served as an adult scouter in BSA troops around the country for the last 13 years.
Gary Smith conducts Business Development for Empire Unmanned. Gary has been in global marketing and sales in the technology industry for over 35 years.
Before moving to Idaho in 2006, Gary worked in the semiconductor and microelectronics industry for Reeves Instruments, Raytheon Marine, Hughes Aircraft, GM Hughes, and Delta Design. As a Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Gary was responsible for opening new markets in Asia, Europe and across the US. He has worked with start-up companies as well as Fortune 500 companies. In that capacity, he built and directed sales and marketing organizations, managed customer service staff, and coordinated domestic and international tradeshows. He also taught technical seminars and industry workshops to introduce new products and services to an expanding global customer base.
Gary holds a Private Pilot, Multi-engine, Commercial, and Instrument Rated FAA License. He served on the Star City Council from 2010 to 2013 and is involved in local and state economic development projects working with the Idaho Department of Commerce and other state agencies. In 2015, he earned his UAS Visual Observer certification. He proudly served in the United States Navy from 1970 – 1976.
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Colleen Hennessey is the Marketing & Sales Manager for Empire Unmanned. A native of Oregon, Colleen spent her first year of collegiate studies at Portland State University. She later graduated from the University of Colorado, Denver with a BSBA in Marketing and a BSBA in Management, with a MSBA in Marketing and BA in Psychology pending. Colleen has also completed extension courses at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.
After graduating from college, Colleen moved to New York City where she served as Vice President of Marketing & Compliance for an insurance company. She then owned and operated her own business consultancy in New York City for over sixteen years, serving major technology corporations, mid-sized companies, and large AM 100 law firms. Some of the clients that Colleen’s company served are major corporations from the aerospace and flight industries. During the recession that resulted after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, Colleen worked full-time for a NASA company, but also continued consulting part-time for her own company.
She is a published writer and journalist, having freelanced for several years for Hearst Media and other major publications in the Northeast. Colleen has two books in progress. She is an adjunct college professor, teaching upper-division business courses for 2-year and 4-year colleges. She has been a long-term member and Executive Officer for the American Marketing Association in the New York City, Connecticut and Denver, Colorado Chapters, as well as other professional associations. Colleen enjoys giving back to others and the community, and has held several elected executive positions for nonprofit organizations.