Cal UAS Day attracts 6,000

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Cal UAS Day attracts 6,000Glowing political endorsements, breathtaking aerial displays and a miniature technology expo helped usher in the communitywide embrace of Cal UAS Portal last weekend when Inyokern Airport hosted an open house showcasing the strides the local effort has made as a candidate to host the integration of unmanned aerial systems into the national airspace (see also related stories, this issue).

While the event was seen as a success that exceeded every expectation, several event organizers also said they were humbled by the overwhelming show of support and an attendance that some have speculated was as high as 6,000.

“Quite frankly, I don’t think we were even prepared for how big this event turned out to be,” said Inyokern Airport CEO Scott Seymour, who hosted the event.

“We had a logjam at the parking lot and a long line for the food. It definitely informed us about how to prepare for things next year, but honestly having quadruple the crowd you are expecting is a pretty nice problem to have.”

Seymour credited Cal UAS Team Lead Eileen Shibley for having the inspiration for the event, as well as teammember Bruce Lowry for helping coordinate logistics. Seymour also acknowledged the contributions of scores who made the event possible (see also related ad, Page 12).

“It was just an amazing day,” said Shibley. “It was insightful for our team and informative to our vendors — but most importantly I think it was a fun day for our community!”

She said her two objectives in staging the event were to demystify the world of commercial unmanned systems and to introduce the vast network of political, military, industry and academic partners of the Cal UAS Portal.

“I think what we saw this weekend demonstrated our capabilities and the bond between our partners like nothing else could,” she said.

“And I got a genuine sense of excitement and pride from our community, who are just so thrilled to be a part of this and see it as a perfect fit with what we’ve been doing for decades.

“Everywhere I went people came up to ask me what we needed and how could they help — and bear in mind this is happening for us when other candidates are being picketed for their involvement. I think a big part of that is simply that we in our community are so entrenched in technological advancement that we have a better understanding of what this is about. That is huge.”

The entire event was planned in less than 10 weeks, said Shibley, but she hopes to bring it back every year.

“We haven’t set a date, but we are already talking about how we can improve things. And you know what I think is most exciting to think about? Look at where we have come in the last year. The sky is virtually the limit when we try and think about where we will be this time next year.”

Story First Published: 2013-11-20