Oregon Invests in Drone Site

Dec. 17 airpower summary: Reapers touch enemy forces

The state of Oregon is investing in a new testing area for drones. The state will invest $545,000 for a test range in Pendleton.

Congress requires that research and development for commercial unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) happen on test ranges approved by the Federal Aviation Administration. Oregon was one of 13 states included in the recent test site approvals completed by the FAA, and the only one on the west coast.

Pendleton is one of three Oregon test ranges.

The state hopes to attract private sector drone developers and servicers. Business Oregon, the state’s economic development agency will provide $1.6 million in loans and grants to support the City of Pendleton’s ongoing work to build out its test range.

The second phase of development on the test site will include building four to six hangars, storage, and communications equipment. State officials project the total project to cost $1.8 million. The bulk of early development has already been paid for by the city of Pendleton, with another $146,000 in municipal funds slated to go toward the project.

“This new funding represents more than an investment in a few concrete pads and buildings,” said Governor Brown. “It demonstrates that when presented with a unique chance to seize an innovative market, State government is poised to step forward to support the community leaders who are working hard to develop a new industry.”

The city is also working with the local community college to foster student involvement.

“We’ve made a significant investment as a community in unmanned aerial systems, and we believe this industry is about to take off,” said Pendleton Mayor Phillip Houk. “We think there are going to be some real opportunities for Pendleton and Eastern Oregon that will pay dividends for the state.”