Drone Port USA makes presentation to legislators in Frankfort

Oct 4, 2017

             State legislators are on board with the USA Drone Port initiative and activities being held at Hazard Community and Technical College. The Kentucky Legislative Interim Joint Committee on Tourism, Small Business & Information Technology heard a 40-minute presentation about the progress being made towards drone technology and the boost the USA Drone Port will mean for Eastern Kentucky’s economy.

The legislators were told how Eastern Kentucky has great assets for the drone port – terrain, a remote location, unregulated air space, and 80 acres of land on the Knott-Perry County line, donated by Shawn Adams. “When you see passionate people doing things, you want to get involved,” Adams told the legislators.

Bart Massey, Director of the USA Drone Port National Unmanned Robotics and Research and Development Center, expressed his enthusiasm for the $15 million project that is the only one of its kind in the nation. He noted the price for Phase I is $5 million.

Massey spoke to the legislators on Sept. 21 along with HCTC President Dr. Jennifer Lindon; Perry County Judge Executive Scott Alexander; Donna Roark, HCTC Chief Information Officer; and Shawn Adams.

The future is limitless in drone technology, as Massey explained to the legislators. “We don’t know where this is going, we just know we need to be on board,” he noted. Ms. Roark shared with legislators what is being done in other states, demonstrating the need to not wait. She provided statistics on what the other states were putting toward the UAV industry along with the number of UAV pilots Kentucky has and the surrounding states. 

Judge Alexander said he has grant writers working to bring about more funding, but more dollars will be needed for the project to be successful.

The interest in drone technology at HCTC has already been demonstrated by 80 firefighters at a Search and Rescue class utilizing drones during a fire school, drone races, and numerous classes – including FAA 107 Pilot Class, videography and “Build Your Own Drone.”

The vision includes offering an incubator for talented designers in drone technology, who will need the legal expertise and financial advice on getting started with their ideas.

                Legislators were told that the many of our universities from around the state of Kentucky have offered their support. Fifth District Congressman Harold Rogers and U.S. Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul have expressed their interest and support.

The chair of the committee, Representative Diane St. Onge, called the project “very enlightening” and expressed her congratulations on what has already been accomplished.

State Representative Chris Fugate, who attended the presentation, noted, “This project shows the heart of Eastern Kentucky.” State Senators Brandon Smith and Johnny Ray Turner have expressed his support, along with State Representatives Tim Couch and John Blanton. Tonita Goodwin, Perry County Economic Development, has assisted the project.

To learn more, visit the website usadroneport.com