Drone Testing Coming to Nevada, Bringing Jobs, Money - 8 News NOW

Drone Testing Coming to Nevada, Bringing Jobs, Money

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LAS VEGAS -- Cutting-edge military technology is flying into the commercial world, and Nevada will be a key player in making it possible.

The Federal Aviation Administration announced that Nevada will be one of six sites allowed to test drones to help the agency draw up nationwide guidelines by September 2015.

Military drones have been flying over Creech Air Force Base for years, but testing and trouble shooting the technology for the private sector is just taking off in Nevada.

Gov. Brian Sandoval says the announcement Monday means the state will gain thousands of well paying jobs.

To understand how something soars, you need to look at how it is built on the ground. It is something the aviation and aerospace engineering students at Rancho High School already know.

"The fact is, if they don't learn it now, in ten years, they'll be way behind. So, we want Nevada students to be on the cutting edge," aviation and aerospace engineering teacher Gary Archambeault said.

Nevada beat out 18 other states to get its coveted spot on the FAA's drone development list.

The state boasts vast amounts of air space and an infrastructure already built for unmanned aerial vehicles at Creech Air Force Base.

The challenge now is providing the workforce. The FAA wants states in the program to work with colleges, universities, high schools and even middle schools to develop the workforce and attract companies.

The governor's office estimates the drone testing sites to generate thousands of jobs that pay an average of more than $60,000 a year, which would be a $2.5 billion impact for Nevada.

Gov. Sandoval says Monday's announcement is historic.

"It is truly another opportunity in our state and for our citizens and students so they can be on the ground floor of part of the future of aviation history," the governor said.

Drones could be used to find or fight wildfires, to inspect crops, or for uses not even discovered yet.

"The ultimate goal of any teacher is get their students to the place where they can take the tools that they've learned and take them further beyond what I've taught them," Archambeault said.

The future of unmanned aerial vehicles will be sorted out in Nevada skies by its students on the ground.

Officials in the governor's office say the testing will be spread between northern and southern Nevada. In the north, drones will be tested at the Fallon Naval Air Station and Stead Airport north of Reno. In the south, testing will be done at the Boulder City Municipal Airport and near the Nevada National Security Site.

They say drones will not be flying over residential neighborhoods.

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