But Schumer and Wyden are, if anything, playing catch-up in a race that has already seen the establishment of unmanned aerial vehicle test and training sites at Grand Forks Air Force Base in Grand Forks, North Dakota; the National Air Intelligence Center in Springfield, Ohio; Langley AFB in Hampton, Virginia; Ellsworth AFB in Rapid City, South Dakota; Mountain Home AFB in Mountain Home, Idaho; and Whiteman AFB in Knob Noster, Missouri. Thanks to President Teddy Roosevelt and the establishment of the National Parks system, we can probably expect that the other 42 states not already mentioned will be competing to serve up some of their public land as drone proving grounds.
In addition to test and training sites, Federal education and stimulus money is being used to create nonmilitary drone education programs. The Department of Aviation at the University of North Dakota, located in Grand Forks and the operator of the test and training site at Grand Forks AFB, now offers the first Bachelors of Science program in Unmanned Aircraft Systems Operations. The Aviation Maintenance Technology program at Northland Community and Technical College, located in Thief River Falls, Minnesota just 40 miles east of Grand Forks, will soon offer courses in the repair of UAVs. Garrison Keillor will probably announce a new drone shop class at the high school in Lake Wobegon next.
Although it is hard to predict where the drone infrastructure will grow, if other defense contracting projects are a reliable guide, the drone-ification of America will probably continue until there is a drone aerodrome in every state and a drone degree program to go with it. Drone Scout jamborees and merit badges cannot be far behind — coming soon to a summer camp near you.
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