Matt Santos Reporter
Representatives from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Prescott, delivered a presentation on the ERAU Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) program, often referred to as drone aircraft, at the July 10 town council meeting and requested council to supply a letter of support for the university’s bid to obtain approval from the Federal Aviation Administration for a local UAS test site.
Robin Sobotta, commissione of the Arizona Aerospace and Defense Commission and chair of the ERAU Dept. of Business, outlined in detail ERAU’s wish to become part of the Arizona UAS testing program. In order to do so, ERAU will need to partner with the town, as well as with Chino Valley Model Aviators, Inc.
The partnership with the local model aviators will include use of the flight location leased to the group by the town near Old Home Manor on Perkinsville Road.
“There is interest from all over the state,” said Sobotta. “The concept is that there will be a hub somewhere in the center of the state and out at the spokes will be several smaller testing areas that will facilitate local testing in a safe way.”
The area that Sobotta and her group are suggesting is an approximately 8-mile corridor from the airport at Ernest A. Love Field in Prescott, over open land parallel to Highway 89 following Granite Creek Wash, and ending at the CVMA landing strip near Old Home Manor.
“There has been UAS testing and training in the state of Arizona for more than a decade; 10,000 operators have been trained in unmanned systems at Fort Huachuca, safely out of Sierra Vista. More than 30,000 flight hours have already been flown in the state of Arizona in unmanned aircraft systems, and another 60,000 to 65,000 flight hours have been flown from devices in Arizona in theater in support of the military,” said Sobotta.