Hyde County Promotes Unmanned Aerial Systems

Published 11:46 am Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Federal Aviation Administration has selected Virginia, Texas, North Dakota, New York, Nevada and Alaska for the development of test sites for commercial drone aircraft.

The Engelhard Airport in Hyde County had been considered as an ideal location because of its secluded location surrounded by restricted military airspace, but was not chosen.

A Hyde County Office of Planning and Economic Development report noted online that April 2013 marked a year that the Hyde County Office of Planning & Economic Development (OPED) had been working with the NC DOT Division of Aviation, the NextGen Air Transportation (NGAT) Center at the Institute for Transportation Research and Education (ITRE) at North Carolina State University and the NC’s Northeast Commission on the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) project at the Hyde County Airport in Engelhard

Kris Noble, Planning & Economic Development Director, Hyde County Office of Planning & Economic Development discussed how Hyde County is moving forward after this announcement.

“We are pleased that the FAA has selected six national Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) test sites. Hyde County along with its partners are still committed to the mission of making our state a leader in this emerging industry. The FAA’s selection of test sites demonstrates that the industry, technologies and opportunities will continue to grow with North Carolina.  UAS industry and Hyde County’s Gull Rock Test Site is growing as well. Hyde County airport will continue to be a great place to conduct UAS testing and it will get even better in 2014,” Noble said.

 Over the last several years, Hyde County has accomplished a number of improvements to the Engelhard Airport as dictated by their Transportation Improvement Plan including resurfacing of the tarmac, remodeling of the existing terminal, addition of fuel sales at the airport and most recently the installation of an Automated Weather Observing System.

 Noble said that the Testing of Unmanned Aerial Systems is more qualitative than quantitative.
“ It’s not a question of how many unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) would be flying but more what data would these particular UAVs be collecting. Currently the Gull Rock Test site flies three platforms consisting of two small hand launched planes and one helicopter. These UAVs are used to collect agricultural data and to develop multispectral sensors that will be invaluable tools for farmers as they fight blight, drought and disease while increasing crop yields.” she said.