Elected leaders endorse CalUAS Portal

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Elected leaders endorse CalUAS PortalA salvo of support for the Cal UAS Portal from our elected officials was the cherry on top of the sundae in an already-positive week of developments for the Inyokern Airport-based effort to become one of the six FAA test sites to integrated unmanned aerial systems into federal airspace (see also related story, this page).

In a joint statement released last week, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, state Sen. Jean Fuller, Assemblywoman Shannon Grove and 1st District Supervisor Mick Gleason added their glowing endorsements to the local effort to bring economic diversity to the region while aiding the FAA in its assignment to outline requirements for commercial operations of drones.

Gleason, in his previous role as executive director of the China Lake Alliance, helped bring awareness of the competitive process to the Indian Wells Valley about 15 months ago. Last year Eileen Shibley, now his successor in the CLA, began bringing political, military, industry, DOD and community officials together in the effort.

Over the last year McCarthy, Fuller and Grove each toured IYK, each expressing general support for the endeavor. “I am so glad to have this in writing, as it now puts our effort on a relatively even footing with other teams that have drawn unified support from their states, not to mention millions of dollars in funding,” said Shibley.

“I applaud the Cal UAS Portal for its recent submission to the FAA,” said McCarthy. “There is still work to be done, but with the technical expertise, remote location, controlled airspace and di-verse climate and terrain, I believe the Cal UAS Portal is a great candidate for this endeavor.

“East Kern County and I are united, and I look forward to continuing to work with the community in support of this effort.”

“I know that the Cal UAS Portal team has put together a compelling proposal that highlights Inyokern’s diverse environment, resources and human capital,” said Fuller.

“If it gets selected as a research and test site, as I believe it should, the area will benefit from much-needed new jobs and stand as an example of how to adapt in today’s rapidly changing economy.”

Grove called the IWV and the aerospace corridor “a perfect microcosm of everything that makes California a national and world leader in UAS development.

“The Cal UAS Portal has harnessed the natural resources and technical expertise of the region to help write the next chapter in UAS history, and this is exactly the kind of endeavor that California should embrace to encourage industry growth and job creation.”

Gleason, who sent out his support about a week in advance of his colleagues in higher offices, included detail in the joint press release about how the technical expertise, secure tactical environment and robust indigenous workforce made IYK perfect for consideration.

“The same dynamic which brought the U.S. Navy here in 1943 exists today. We have an emerging need to safely develop a national program outside the confines of major population centers where test programs can safely fail and innovation can safely succeed,” said Gleason.

“It is the best choice for the FAA to conduct testing for the integration of UAS into the national airspace.”

Story First Published: 2013-04-03