Drones to fly out of Mills River site if North Carolina lawmakers approve


State officials are looking at rules and regulations regarding the use of drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles, a controversial tool that some argue have great potential for law enforcement and agricultural uses as others note potential problems over privacy issues.

Kirk Ross, a reporter for Carolina Public Press, recently reported that a N.C. House study committee got its first close-up look at the drone issue. Here’s the pertinent note for Western North Carolina:

The House Committee on Unmanned Aerial Systems formed after efforts failed last session to adopt rules on the use of the aircraft in anticipation of their likely clearance for commercial use by the Federal Aviation Authority, which currently prohibits commercial applications.

While the legislation — the Preserving Privacy Act of 2013 — died in a committee during the session, legislators did agreed to study the issue.

Although not allowed for commercial purposes, there are some unmanned systems already operating in the state. After obtaining waivers from the FAA, North Carolina State University’s NextGen Air Transportation Center (NGAT) opened three test sites located at Camp Butner, in Granville County; Hyde County; and at Moyock, in Currituck County.

NGAT director Kyle Snyder told the committee that a key FAA report due later this year could clear the way for some commercial uses as early as 2015. The center, he said, wants to expand its program, which has focused on agricultural applications, throughout the state. The new sites would be based mainly out of N.C. State’s network of agriculture research stations, including its Mountain Horticultural Crops Research and Extension Center, located in Henderson County.

Click over to read the full story. (Another mention of drones here in last week’s Ashvegas Political Hit List.) Here’s more, from WTVD Channel 11 in Raleigh:

The Federal Aviation Administration essentially prohibits the commercial use of these aircraft right now. But tests are being done at hundreds of locations nationwide, including North Carolina, with an eye toward private use in the future. The NextGen Air Transportation Center, based at North Carolina State University, has permission to fly the very small aircraft over acreage in Hyde County and in Butner and Moyock.

The FAA could soon provide rules unmanned aircraft, the software to run it and the data collection. Kyle Snyder, the NextGen center’s director, cited an economic impact study showing the industry could generate more than 1,100 jobs in North Carolina by 2025. The center’s drone has been taking pictures of farmland. An unmanned aerial system could examine potential crop damage more cheaply than planes.

“The industry wants to come here,” Snyder said recently. “I’ve got industry partners lined up to say, ‘Yes, if we can fly and we can fly in multiple locations in your state, we’re ready to come.'”

The committee’s attention is likely to focus upon the use of drones by local and state governments.

Keep your eyes on the sky. Meantime, here’s some background on drones and agriculture.

Image link for drone.



theOtherBarry February 6, 2014 - 9:08 pm

Whoops! Too many questions being asked, apparently. Mills River drone testing is out.

Better move further out into the hinterlands… let’s see, what looks good…

theOtherBarry January 28, 2014 - 7:05 pm

Speaking of Chuck McGrady and the legislature imposing their radical agenda on the region, can you believe the huevos on this guy?:

“Local governments are closest to the people, and I don’t think Raleigh should be dictating how they address local issues,” McGrady says.


“Except when local Republicans want to settle scores & seize assets, then we love the power in Raleigh like all-get-out.”

theOtherBarry January 28, 2014 - 12:14 pm


The “Mountain Horticultural Crops Research and Extension Center” is in Mills River, not in Fletcher.


Unless they’re planning to fly them somewhere else?

Jason Sandford January 28, 2014 - 12:38 pm

Thank you, Barry.

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