Transforming basic multi-disciplinary research into applied research in the area of a new generation of networks, sensors, cyber-physical, and edge-cloud systems used for cyber space is a difficult task. However, moving even a step forward by providing advanced field and testing facilities for ground-air demonstrations for appearing Aviation 4.0 scenarios is a real challenge. In our opinion, such a rapid and dynamic process should be powered by many research and infrastructure projects. New development strategies are needed in the upcoming future to link emerging trends in information and communications technologies together with increased competitiveness and users expectations from fully autonomous drones, robots, cars, etc. This paper aims to share our early experiences in setting and providing distributed testbeds to cross different hardware, software, and cyber-physical components and pave the way for air-ground demonstrations of the new emerging IT paradigm – digital continuum. We also share our vision of implementing virtual and digital spaces at a large scale by the gradual transition towards higher levels of cyber-physical systems automation and autonomy. Finally, we promote dynamic, data-driven, service-oriented approaches and network-centric platforms for a new generation of air and ground control systems which will be validated in real conditions established thanks to our new airfield-based laboratories used in many ongoing and future R&D projects.
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