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Treadwell Celebrates First Flight from UAS Test Range in Alaska

May 5, 2014, Anchorage, AK – Alaska, which was one of six states chosen to test how UAS (unmanned aerial systems) could be used in the nation’s civil airspace, launched its first flight today from the Pan-Pacific UAS Test Range Complex with a short flight at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell, chair of the Aerospace States Association (ASA), witnessed the flight remotely from Anchorage with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator Michael Huerta and other leaders in Alaska’s aviation and research community.

“The small flight of this spidery vehicle is actually a big milestone,” Treadwell said. “While we’ve had UAS flights before, this one was conducted at a test site that will bring aircraft manufacturers, researchers, and entrepreneurs from all over the world. It will mean new jobs for Alaska and new investment in our state.”

ASA has advocated for the FAA's test bed program, and the lieutenant governor and ASA have helped Alaska and other states address privacy and constitutional issues related to unmanned aircraft. In his remarks, Huerta credited Treadwell and other state officials with playing a key role in moving the test bed program forward.

After the flight, Treadwell congratulated those in the University who developed the Alaska proposal, including UAF’s Vice Chancellor for Research Mark Myers and Rosanne “Ro” Bailey, range manager for the Geophysical Institute's Alaska Center for Unmanned Aerial Systems Integration (ACUASI). An Alaska UAS Interest Group, organized by the State of Alaska, the U.S. Department of the Interior in Alaska, the FAA, and UA have hosted an annual workshop for the last seven years to help prepare for the new technology here.

The FAA chose Alaska in December of last year as one of six states to be a test bed to integrate remotely piloted aircraft into civil airspace.  Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Texas and Virginia were also chosen as testing grounds for UAS. The Pan-Pacific UAS Test Range Complex, led by Alaska, includes facilities in Oregon and Hawaii.

Treadwell has been invited to give the keynote address the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) 2014 conference in Orlando next week. The lieutenant governor will invite firms to use the test range in Alaska, and will talk about how ASA has helped states address privacy and safety issues, and how the industry will be an area of large economic growth in the United States. Treadwell told the industry group last year that if we don’t protect privacy, there won’t be an unmanned aircraft industry in the U.S.

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