After nearly four years of work, the first unmanned aerial vehicle flight over the Warm Springs Indian Reservation should be taking off Tuesday, weather permitting.
The flight is not associated with the Federal Aviation Administration-selected Pan-Pacific UAS Test Range Complex, said Jeff Anspach, CEO of Warm Spring Ventures. It’s a research and development effort by Oregon State University and Bend-based Paradigm isr to conduct the first UAV flight on the Warm Springs Test Range.
“We’re going to fly over the burned landscape from the fire last year to gather research about regeneration strategies,” said Anspach, who’s also the test range manager.
David Blair, director of government and public relations for Paradigm — a company specializing in unmanned aerial systems applications and data management — said the OSU College of Forestry will operate the flight, but Paradigm helped OSU gain authorization through the FAA.
“This is great news for the test site,” Blair said. “It establishes now a record of flights at Warm Springs. It’s moving us forward to show that Oregon is a technology-forward state that embraces technology applications to (examine) a whole variety of natural resource, agriculture and other problems.”
Michael Wing, assistant professor of geomatics at OSU’s College of Forestry, said he plans to bring two fixed-wing aircraft to fly over Warm Springs. They measure about 5 feet from wing tip to wing tip and cost about $200 each, he said.
“When this thing shows up, all it is is a piece of foam,” he said. “We carve and tape and glue and put a bunch of components into it that allow us to direct the flight and control the flight from the ground. We can tell it where to go, what speeds to fly, and we put cameras on board.”
He said the goal is to find out how accurate measurements are from the ground and assess the severity of the burned land using infrared cameras.
Anspach said the authorization covers 465 square miles, but Tuesday’s test will take place within a radius of about 1 mile.
It will also help meet the goal, he said, of having Warm Springs and other Oregon sites in the Pan-Pacific UAS Test Range ready for the FAA by June 28. Organizational tasks must be completed before FAA test flights associated with the University of Alaska can start.
“This certainly has always been part of our plan to get operational,” Anspach said. “It is a big, big first step for us.”
— Reporter: 541-617-7818,