The pilot plant of Tesla’s ‘Gigafactory 1’ is almost completed and will be officially inaugurated at a special event on July 29.  Pictures of the ambitious facility, which is located east of Reno in Nevada, have been more scarce since two journalists from Gannett’s Reno Gazette Journal (RGJ) were involved in an altercation with two Tesla safety managers on the property while they were trying to take pictures of the factory late last year.

We’ve got an update with some up close pictures when Motor Trend did a photoshoot for the Model 3 at the Gigafactory a month ago, but we are now bringing you the most recent aerial shots of the factory.

We sent out our favorite pilot, Joshua Mcdonald from Nevada Tailwheel , on a mission for an aerial update of the battery factory yesterday.

From the pictures (one featured above and full gallery below), it’s clear that there’s a lot of activity at the plant. Hundreds of vehicles are parked in two separate parking lots in front of the facility. Last month, we published the Q1 2016 Quarterly Activity Report by Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED). It confirmed that as of the end of Q1 2016, Tesla and Panasonic had 317 and 52 Gigafactory employees respectively. Around 600 construction workers were also reported to be working at the factory during the quarter.

As for the building itself, we can see that Tesla completed the roof of the third section since our last update – the fourth section is still incomplete. You can look at the February 2016 pictures for comparison.

As previously mentioned, the factory is still under construction and currently only the first phase, sometimes called the “pilot plant’, is up with an 800,000-square-foot footprint and 1.9 million square feet of space. Once completed, the Gigafactory is expected to have a total operational space of about 13 million square feet.

Here’s a quick video from Joshua’s flight:

Earlier this week, we also reported on interesting comments made by Tesla CEO Elon Musk about the fact that the company could potentially triple the total planned battery output of the Gigafactory to ~105 GWh of cells and ~150 GWh of battery packs – or over 3 times the current total li-ion battery production worldwide.

He said that it could be done without expanding the current planned structure, which as mentioned would offer 13 million square feet of operational space once completed, hinting at a significant increase in efficiency.

The Gigafactory aims to reduce the price of batteries by 30 to 50 percent, which is an important part of the solution to the problem of bringing the Model 3 to market. Tesla recently closed a $1.7 billion financing round to accelerate its Model 3 manufacturing program.

Here’s a gallery of Joshua’s best shots – you can click on the pictures for higher resolution versions:

All pictures and footage by Joshua Mcdonald from Nevada Tailwheel commissioned by Electrek.

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