About to take flight
by Chip Latcham
Jan 15, 2014 | 278 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The sky’s the limit, said those celebrating Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi’s successfully landing its proposal for unmanned aircraft systems, commonly referred to as drones.

Three officials from the Bee Development Authority, Laura Fischer, John Galloway and Joe B. Montez, attended the A&M-Corpus Christi party Monday at Brewster Street Ice House. The event commemorated the Federal Aviation Administration’s selecting the university to serve as one of six test site operators in the U.S. to research the use of unmanned aircraft.

The TAMU-CC proposal includes partnering entities such as Texas A&M at College Station, the University of Texas, Texas Tech and UT at Arlington, as well as those representing Chase Field, the former naval air station. The lone Texas site covers a vast area from the Big Bend area down to South Texas, including Bee, Kenedy and Duval counties.

During the celebration, it was announced that South Texas would receive about $260 million of the $8 billion expected to be spent in Texas during the testing program over the next 10 years, creating more than 1,200 jobs.

What has not been established definitively yet is the economic impact and number of jobs created at the Chase Field Airport, which will be used as a “ground facility” for the drones at the former VT-24 hangar.

“We’re getting Hangar 24 ready,” Montez said, adding, “I would tell you that by June, we should have a lot of activity here.”

Certainly, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi President Flavius Killebrew President Killebrew and university officials, as well as all those who played a role both here and statewide, deserve praise for pursuing and achieving this project, which will have a major impact in the Coastal Bend.

At the celebration, a sign reading “Home of Unmanned Flight” greeted those attending. Comparisons were made to the “Home of Space Flight” at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

“This is a big deal for Texas. This is also a big deal for Corpus Christi,” one TAMU-CC regent said.

We’re also hoping the decision will propel the Bee County economy upward, possibly launching more aviation-related jobs in the future.
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