The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum has welcomed a Boeing CV2 cargo air vehicle (CAV) to the collection. The aircraft was introduced ahead of the unofficial official Star Wars day on May 4, which derives from the popular Jedi phrase from the franchise “may the force be with you”.

This CAV was the first remotely piloted large electrical vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft to be flown in support of a commercial operation in the United States. For this flight, Boeing partnered with Walt Disney Imagineering Research & Development to mount X-wing “body shells” on two CAVs for the opening events of the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge attraction at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. The themed CAV is a gift from Boeing and Walt Disney Imagineering Research & Development and will go on display at the museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia.

“While lightweight delivery drones are being tested at a number of locations around the nation, the development of heavier vertical takeoff and landing cargo drones for military and commercial use is one of the most promising areas of autonomous aircraft development,” said Roger Connor, vertical flight curator at the museum. “The Boeing Cargo Air Vehicle was the first of these allowed to perform a commercial flight in the United States—in this instance, carrying a Star Wars X-wing shell that was used at Walt Disney World.”

In 2017, Boeing began development of all-electric uncrewed CAVs designed to carry 225 kilograms (500 pounds) of cargo. The company used them as testbeds to understand the opportunities and challenges of applying advances in batteries, electric propulsion and autonomous flight. In December 2019, when Boeing partnered with The Walt Disney Co., a crowd of spectators watched as two X-wing-outfitted CAVs flew over the Walt Disney World event. Ultraviolet spotlights illuminated the drones so that only the X-wing frame was visible.

“As Disney Imagineers, we leverage new and emerging technology in service of the story-driven experiences we create,” said Scott Trowbridge, senior creative executive for Walt Disney Imagineering. “Our work to bring a ‘real’ X-wing to the skies above Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge for the opening of a new attraction was not only spectacular, but a moment representative of the immersive Star Wars experience coming to life.”

The National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC, is located at Sixth Street and Independence Avenue SW. The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Centre is located in Chantilly, Virginia, near Washington Dulles International Airport.