Pendleton UAS Range nearing end of first construction phase

By Emily Aasand | August 08, 2014

The Pendleton Unmanned Aerial Systems Range in Oregon is nearing the end of its first phase of construction. The city spent $120,000 to build 15 pads that will serve as an essential function for the future UAV hub, and they may be close to phasing out local funding for the project.

The Eastern Oregon Regional Airport will rent out 50-by-50 foot spaces to provide electricity, high-speed internet and water for the command center customers to fly UASs.

Originally this was a four phase project, but Steve Chrisman, economic development director, said the range could skip to its final phase of developing the northernmost area of the airport if UAS testing proves successful.

Chrisman plans to reach out to the U.S. Economic Development Administration for federal funding to help provide money for a UAV industrial park to house UAV companies.

The second phase of the project includes constructing an area for hangers on the south side of the airport and could receive funding from the actual customers if the demand for a secure place to store their equipment is high enough.

Chrisman’s pursue of local funding won’t come without challenge, especially at a time when opinions on the airport are mixed.

The airport’s recent open house was considered successful, but the city recently decided to reduce the amount of money for the airport in a bond issues proposal due to the lack of support shown by the community.

According to Chrisman, the poll was conducted before the range was selected as a test site by the Federal Aviation Administration, and the $120,000 the city spent on the launch pads was necessary for the project’s survival.

“I don’t know any scenario where you announce something and people come with wheelbarrows of money,” said Chrisman.