History

Established in 1956, Raven Industries’ purpose has always been to solve great challenges. Today, Raven Aerostar has taken lighter-than-air to all new heights by leveraging the most brilliant minds, materials and machinery over the span of more than 50 years. You can call us pioneers, but we call ourselves proven.

As part of Raven Industries, Raven Aerostar can traces its roots back to the General Mills Applied Sciences Division,  where Barrage Balloons and other scientific items were developed and manufactured for the war effort. Raven’s founders had a fascination of and passion for ballooning that compelled them to advance and develop all other aspects of ballooning, utilizing the imagination and innovation by which they would come to be defined.

At the company’s inception, its primary purpose was the manufacture of high altitude research balloons for the U.S. Navy. With this successful program, Raven Industries found itself producing a line of polyethylene high altitude balloons used for research in the near space environment of 100,000 to 150,000 feet altitudes. These high altitude balloons carried capsules that held mice, monkeys and even cosmic ray measuring devices and served as a key proving ground for establishing man's compatibility in space.

Additional corporate expansion was due to product needs for scientific ballooning found in sewing, sealing, electronics, plastic engineering and plastic fabrication and processing.

Early on, Raven's Scientific Ballooning Division diversified. In 1960, Raven invented the modern hot air balloon. In 1966, Raven expanded to accommodate the manufacturing of parachutes by constructing a production facility in Huron, S.D.  During that same year, Raven purchased 11.5 acres of land in the Industrial Park in Sioux Falls, where a 36,000 square foot production plant was built.

In 1970, Raven successfully launched and flew the first unmanned stratospheric airship in history to achieve powered flight in the stratosphere.

Aerostar International was established in 1986 as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Raven Industries, carrying on everything which Raven was at its inception, and the technologies and expertise of Raven’s scientific ballooning history were transferred to Aerostar.

Continuing to expand through engineering expertise and innovation, Raven purchased the high-altitude balloon manufacturing assets of Winzen International. In 2012, Raven Aerostar acquired Vista Research, Inc., a producer of highly engineered Smart Sensing Radar Systems. Over the years, Raven Aerostar’s presence has expanded to include locations in Texas, Virginia, and California.

When Raven Aerostar was formed in 1986, our mission was to carry on the pioneering work of Raven Industries. Raven Aerostar has taken engineering and manufacturing knowledge and translated it into revolutionizing our diverse product lines. We continue to surpass our own records by bringing in technical expertise and advancements in technology into every industry in which we operate.