Ron: Unmanned Aerial Vehicles "the face of a real economic opportunity for rural Oregon”

In a visit last week to Pendleton Airport, Ron praised Eastern Oregon for capitalizing on the economic potential of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) to help fight wildfires, help precision agriculture and perform mountaintop rescue.

After meeting with PAE ISR staff as well as Pendleton Mayor John Turner and Umatilla County Commissioner George Murdock, Ron said Pendleton and Eastern Oregon have carved out a big part in the core of a growing UAV industry that pays workers well.


“This is an industry of the future,” Ron said. “This is the face of a real economic opportunity for rural Oregon.”


When the Federal Aviation Administration created UAV test ranges across the country, Ron fought to ensure test ranges were created in Pendleton as well as in Warm Springs and Tillamook.


And he worked to extend operation of the test ranges through 2023.


“I’m a privacy hawk,’’ Ron said. “But I think we can thread the needle and find a way to support UAV technology and your good-paying jobs without sacrificing privacy protections.


According to the city of Pendleton, the test range there has more than doubled the airport’s average annual revenue in the 2019 fiscal year and UAV flight operations have grown from 118 in the 2016 fiscal year to more than 3,000 in the 2019 fosca year. 

His airport meeting came the day after Ron had town halls in Baker and Umatilla counties.