SILVER SPRINGS, Nev. (Mynews4.com & KRNV) --Just over an hour south of Reno, down a long stretch of Highway 50, you’ll find the Silver Springs airport.
Primarily used for general aviation and small prop planes, Silver Springs Airport has been selected by the Nevada Institute of Autonomous Systems as an operations location for Unmanned Autonomous Vehicle Systems.
Nevada was recently selected as one of six locations to be a development center for "unmanned aerial vehicles."
Kay Bennett runs the airport, and was one of the driving forces behind the Nevada Institute of Autonomous Systems selecting of the airport.
“It’s such an honor, such a privilege to be selected,” said Bennett.” We think we are going to be able to add some stature and prestige to our airport, to Lyon County, and hopefully, be the prototype.”
Shortly after Nevada was selected to be one of six states that would act as development centers for unmanned aerial vehicles, otherwise known as drones, Silver Springs Airport was eyed as a prime location. The effort came about through the partnership of Lyon County, the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED), and Northern Nevada Development Authority (NNDA).
“We looked at them at we said this would make a great UAV testing site, says Maurice Washington of the Northern Nevada Development Authority. “There’s so many other potential opportunities out there, so we grabbed a hold of it, and we pushed for it as far as we could get it.”
Due to the low density population in the area and the low volume of aircraft that fly in and out of the airport, Silver Springs is the perfect location for an unmanned aircraft operations site.
Lyon County Manager Jeff Page says that he can see nothing but good things coming from this development.
“We’re anticipating and hoping that it will bring us some opportunity to not only the Silver Springs area but to all of Lyon county to have new facilities.”
Page also wants to remind people that they shouldn't assume that drones mean combat, “When people think drones, they think predators, they think Pakistan and Afghanistan, they think missiles. When I look at drones, I’m looking at how we can use those for public safety, search and rescue.”
As for Kay, she’s just happy that all of her hard work has finally paid off.
“It just means so much to us, to our community. To help raise the standards of what we can do and the excitement for the airport, I’m just thrilled. ”
The unmanned aircraft that will be operated out of Silver Springs could be sued of a wide variety of uses such as agriculture, search and rescue and helping to fight wildfires. The different agencies working on the project hope to break ground on the Silver Springs airport site within the next 3 to six months.
Additional sites will include Stead, Boulder City, Desert Rock and Fallon. There could be thousands of jobs, with an average wage of about $62,000 per year, and an estimated $2.5 billion in economic impact.