Barber meets with city officials on proposed UAS site

Dana Cole/San Pedro Valley News-Sun |

Newly-elected U.S. Representative Ron Barber was in Benson on Friday to meet with officials about a proposal for an Unmanned Aerial Systems, or UAS, test range at the Benson Municipal Airport.

The federal government is looking for areas of unrestricted airspace to be used in the development of nonmilitary drone technologies, where researchers will be testing the unmanned aircraft in an effort to safely integrate them into civil airspace. The Federal Aviation Administration will be soliciting proposals from applicants later this month, with Arizona as one of more than 30 states vying for selection. Within Arizona, the cities of Benson, Yuma, Prescott and Safford are compiling Requests for Information, with selection in December. While many consider the Benson airport an ideal location because of its unrestricted airspace and proximity to Fort Huachuca, it’s a fiercely competitive process.