NMSU Field Trip

N 659 NM

In this sUAS News exclusive you get a behind the hanger door view of the fleet flown by the PSL (Physical Science Laboratory.)

I finally found myself in close enough proximity to the university to make a visit. Not just down here enjoying the warm and dry climate, but on assignment supporting the NIE at WSMR (White Sands Missile Range).


We’ve been experiencing some excessive local winds affording me a chance to check in with fellow UAS enthusiast and old friend, Doug Davis. Doug is now


Director for Global UAS Strategic Initiatives for NMSU PSL. Not so many years ago when we first met, he was the director of the FAA’s UAPO.

He was of course on the regulatory side of the integration effort whilst I was on the advocacy side representing the RCAPA (Remote Control Aerial Photography Association.) We still have some differences, but continue to share much common ground regarding the integration effort. It’s always pleasant to reaffirm connections with members of the old guard and reminisce about what is now considered the good old days, or the era of common sense.

Unfortunately, we are beyond that now and the effort has found itself displaced into an elevated state of “just say no!” 2.0. Out the proverbial window has gone the balance of regulation matching risk. The old and tired “we need data” Pinto has broken down on the side of the road many miles ago. Really, not the place for this variety of commentary, but it serves to remind the reader and the uninitiated community that there was a time when more receptive and pragmatic heads prevailed.

The NMSU facility is a full stable of mainly Israeli products, and an optionally piloted platform. Rounding out the PSL’s capabilities is the LSA chase plane. This array no doubt gives them a wide and varied capacity for system operations and testing. Not resting on their laurels, they are looking to the future and are already in the process of developing the infrastructure for…


I did inquire about the obvious lack of domestic offerings. Not just missing from the hanger here at NMSU, but the other prominent universities with UAS offerings as well. Here again we have a story for another time. I know, I know, I always say that. Believe it or not, I do try to keep these articles under a few thousand words and on something that resembles a linear track. Undoubtedly, an arduous task for any objective UAS integration saga raconteur.

Doug has promised to put sUAS News in the NMSU press release pipeline so we can share with future details of the goings at the PSL. Beyond that, we are rapidly approaching the season of TAAC. http://www.taac.psl.nmsu.edu/

Just a number?

This year’s event will feature a multi-system sUAS participant demo. An excellent opportunity for the participants to actually see how some of the systems operate, offering an empirical frame of reference for future debates and integration conversations.  Helping to facilitate a further understanding of other sUAS outside/beyond the usual suspects operational envelope. I can’t speak to what attendees will see on the application side, but most commercial systems will not operate in an asymmetrical manner.

However, this dynamic bonus should be more than enough to offset the sometimes gloomy discussions and often dry power point presentations (possibly someone will be kind enough to forward me the latest iteration of the commercial business case for Global Hawk??). It’s shaky, but I hear there’s even an outside possibility of getting an official FAA update on the SFAR. Which, by the way, I hear opens with “Dear Patrick”… ;-)

The slots are filling up fast. So, if you were contemplating attending, you’d better make plans to register soon.

Patrick Egan

Editor in Field, sUAS News Americas Desk | Patrick Egan is the editor of the Americas Desk at sUAS News and host and Executive Producer of the sUAS News Podcast Series, Drone TV and the Small Unmanned Systems Business Exposition. Experience in the field includes assignments with the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command Battle Lab investigating solutions on future warfare research projects. Instructor for LTA (Lighter Than Air) ISR systems deployment teams for an OSD, U.S. Special Operations Command, Special Surveillance Project. Built and operated commercial RPA prior to 2007 FAA policy clarification. On the airspace integration side, he serves as director of special programs for the RCAPA (Remote Control Aerial Photography Association).