Drones Get the Green Light to Fly Over West Texas

Drones Get the Green Light to Fly Over West Texas

by: Justin Kree

NewsWest 9

BREWSTER/PECOS COUNTY-  Since May of last year, Texas A&M Corpus Christi submitted an application to allow one of the drone testing areas in the state be located around the Big Bend area, and will take flight over parts of Brewster and Pecos County.

Doctor Luis Cifuentes helps operate the program at the University which is known as the Lone Star Unmanned Aircraft System Initiative. He explains that the goal of the program is for economic development...and the landscape west Texas is a  perfect location. 

"That range was chosen because of it's climatic conditions, lack of low population proximity to the Big Bend. There were many reasons in choosing it," Cifuentes said.

Dr. Cifuentes explains that both the F.A.A. and the University will be testing the drones for a number of reasons.

Economic growth in Texas, and safety is the top priority of the program. Some residents in Brewster County think the government has alternative motives

"In order to test the drones, it's not to fly them to see if they stay in the air, they already know that. Their testing technology for the cameras. What are they going to do? They're going to use the cameras to spy on people around the country," Forrest said.

But Dr. Cifuentes assures that is not the objective of the drone program.  

"People will start to realize that this is not about shooting people. It's not about invading people's privacy. There are real applications that are of use to the Texas public. For example, I hope some day we can provide faster warning regarding storms, tornadoes," Cifunentes said. 

He said educating the public is needed.

"When the public recognizes that this is about public good and economic development and not about spying or shooting people down," Cifuentes said.

But it will be hard to convince some residents of Brewster County

"We don't need a bunch of people flying their stupid drones over my ranch with their cameras, figuring out what we have, where w're at, and that'swe'ret they are going to do," Forrest said.