Elected officials give united endorsement

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Elected officials give united endorsementThe significance of Cal UAS Day as the emerging candidate of merit in the Federal Aviation Administration’s endeavor to integrate unmanned aerial systems into national airspace was established when the open house at Inyokern Airport kicked off Saturday to glowing affirmations from elected officials at the federal, state, county and local levels.

While each of the dignitaries praised the unique airspace, geography and culture of technical achievement of the Cal UAS area of operations, each also spoke of the heart and soul of the team that has been working for more than a year and a half to bring the effort radiating out of Inyokern into final FAA consideration.

“I don’t know if there is another person on the face of this earth who could do what Eileen has done for this event and this effort,” said Kern County 1st District Supervisor Mick Gleason.

“For us, it’s intuitive. We understand the value we bring to being able to conduct the risky enterprise of integrating UAVs into national airspace. The challenge was in getting other people to recognize that value. And that is where Eileen and the IWV Airport Board of Directors have excelled.”

Gleason said that it in the final analysis, it is important for the FAA to award Cal UAS Portal — which extends throughout California to include partners such as NASA Dryden and San Diego — but that Shibley’s promotion of the area has brought Inyokern national recognition as a contender in a competition with areas with more power and financial support.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy said that he flew home from Washington, D.C., specifically to attend the event. “This is the most important thing,” he said, commending Shibley and her team for bringing together the right people at the right time for the right reason.

“Now we need to tell the rest of the nation what we know so well right here — that when you want to do something right, you’ve got to have the right people doing the job. And this valley has the right people. You cannot replace them anywhere else. But more importantly, when you want innovation, you’ve got to have the right geography. And as we all know, you cannot replace this area anywhere in the world,” said McCarthy.

In introducing state Sen. Jean Fuller, McCarthy also noted the significance of having unified support at all levels of representation.

Fuller praised the Indian Wells Valley as one of the best-kept secrets in the world of technical achievement. “You are hard-working, you are modest, you just quietly go about doing your jobs every day in making things that save our nation — this is the part where I start getting chills — and now we get to share this fact with the whole world.”

“Throughout this whole process, this bold, inspirational, wonderful woman stood up against all odds,” said Grove, commending Shibley’s ability to elevate the Cal UAS’s humble location to such lofty heights.

“You have governors and other powerful people fighting for attention, and this little lady at Inyokern Airport is right alongside them.”

Each speaker pointed to that notariety as validation of the merits of Inyokern as a test site. “There is no better place in America to test technology than right here in Inyokern,” said Grove.

Grove and Ridgecrest Mayor Clark, along with other members of the council, also presented certificates of recognition to the Cal UAS team.

Shibley went on to acknowledge other key contributors of Cal UAS, primarily Inyokern Airport CEO Scott Seymour. “Scott has vision. The first time a bunch of us techies came to him and said, ‘Hey, we have this idea …’ — he embraced it. He didn’t even have to think about it. He just embraced the notion and so did his board.”

Story First Published: 2013-11-20