3 governors, 1 mission: Bring drones to Wallops

, jcox6@dmg.gannett.com 1:24 p.m. EDT June 24, 2016

In a rare show of solidarity, all three Delmarva governors have signed on to support bringing a Navy drone surveillance program to Wallops Flight Facility.

Their letters provide a political boost to a campaign led by area business and aerospace industry leaders to persuade the Navy’s top brass to select Wallops as the program’s East Coast home base.

The head of the trade group pushing for the drones cheered the governors’ lobbying efforts.

“The Wallops Island Regional Alliance is deeply honored to have been involved in these steps to attain 3 very important Letters of Support,” Peter Bale, the group’s chairman, said in a statement.

The MQ-4C Triton drone program is expected to bring 400 personnel along with their families to where it’s based.

Wallops is competing with two other possible locations, both in Florida: Naval Station Mayport in Jacksonville and Naval Air Station Key West.

Construction could begin on the base, wherever it’s located, as early as this fall. It would host launch and recovery operations as well as a maintenance facility. All told, the base would be home to four unmanned aircraft with room for up to four more undergoing maintenance.

Operations are expected to kick off in 2020, Navy officials say.

The new drones are slated to conduct reconnaissance missions over ocean and coastal regions. It was called “the first big step in unmanned aviation” by its manufacturer, Northrop Grumman, which has an office near the Wallops facility.

An environmental assessment of the three sites, a major step in determining the final location, is expected to be completed soon.

The Mid-Atlantic governors touted various reasons for basing Triton at Wallops in the northeast corner of Accomack County near Chincoteague.

The facility would be in close proximity to Naval Air Station Patuxent River, where Triton aircraft were first developed and tested, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said in his May 18 letter. It would also be able to take advantage of Naval facilities in the Hampton Roads vicinity, he said.

“I believe that basing Triton in close proximity to these other Navy facilities, headquarters and operating forces will create synergies and facilitate the faster integration of Triton into the Navy’s battle network,” Hogan said.

READ MORE: Why supporters say Triton would be a “Richter scale event” for Delmarva. 

Wallops already has experience with similar unmanned aerial vehicles, including NASA’s RQ-4 Global Hawk, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe noted. The region’s aircraft controllers are accustomed to handling such vehicles and their unique needs.

Locating at Wallops will enable the Navy to tap into Delaware’s educational resources, including the University of Delaware’s mechanical engineering program and Delaware State University’s aviation program, Gov. Jack Markell said.

The region is also “less adversely impacted by hurricanes” and other severe weather events, he added.

Local officials have been practically unanimous in their support as well, with both Accomack and Worcester counties delivering similar endorsements.

Contact reporter Jeremy Cox at 410-845-4630 or on Twitter @Jeremy_Cox

State of the Shore Breakfast

 State of the Shore Breakfast on April 17 event at ESCC with Governor Terry McAuliffe.
Pertinent information is as follows:
State of the Shore Breakfast
Thursday April 17 (8:00 am until 11:00 am)
ESCC Workforce Development Center
Keynote Speaker:  Terry McAuliffe, Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia
7:45 am – Doors open
8:00 am – Light breakfast refreshments to be served in the Atrium (Governor available during breakfast to speak with attendees)
9:00 am – Formal program begins in the Great Hall
Senator Lynwood Lewis
Delegate Robert Bloxom
Accomack County Board of Supervisors Chair Jack Gray
Northampton County Board of Supervisors Chair, Larry LeMond
Mayors of all the towns in both counties have been asked to provide a brief written report for distribution to all attendees
Hear from the Governor and local elected officials about issues, concerns, policies and laws that may impact Virginia’s Eastern Shore out of the 2014 General Assembly session as well as local government.
Call or e-mail Laura Fosque (757) 789-7979 or LFosque@es.vccs.edu
$20 registration fee made payable to the Eastern Shore Community College FOUNDATION
Cash, Check, MasterCard, VISA, AmEx and Discover Accepted


Contact:  Russell W. Blake, City Manager
   (410)  957-1333

Pocomoke City officials have announced a Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting for their new clubhouse building at Winter Quarters Municipal Golf Course.  The event is scheduled for Saturday, April 5 beginning at 10:00 a.m. at the clubhouse at the end of Winter Quarters Drive adjacent the Pocomoke River.  Mayor Bruce Morrison and City Council members will cut a ribbon to officially open the new clubhouse building which replaces the previous building that was flooded during  Hurricane Sandy.  The new building is approximately 1,200 sq. ft. with a private meeting room, outdoor deck, pro shop, snack bar, and restrooms.  The outdoor deck has beautiful views of the golf course and is adjacent to the putting green.  The snack bar and pro shop offers a variety of sandwiches, soft drinks, and snacks, as well as golf supplies including golf balls, tees, apparel, golf clubs, and cart rentals.  The new building was built by Three Guys Construction Co. of Westover, Maryland.  Coffee, donuts and other items will be provided for all attendees at the grand opening ceremony.

In order to celebrate the Grand Opening of the new building, the Mayor and Council have agreed to provide free golf for any area golfers on either Saturday, April 5 or Sunday, April 6.  Golfers may play one round of 18 holes on either day at no cost.  The purpose of this promotional weekend is to highlight the new clubhouse building and to show off our beautiful nine-hole course located adjacent to the Pocomoke River.  The golf course features bent grass greens, water hazards, sand traps, paved cart paths, and the occasional eagle flying overhead.

Winter Quarters Golf Course is available for fundraising tournaments at discounted rates for all non-profit groups in our area.  The City also encourages local groups and businesses to form employee leagues to enjoy golf at special rates in the late afternoon hours.  Golfers are asked  to call 401.957.1171  or 410.957.1333 to reserve a tee time for either Saturday or Sunday, April 5 or 6, and to reserve an optional golf cart.

For general information about Pocomoke City or other upcoming events, please go to www.cityofpocomoke.com or pocomoke.com.

New Privately Built Rocket Passes Key Engine Test

by Tariq Malik, SPACE.com Managing Editor
Date: 23 February 2013 Time: 06:55 AM ET

A new commercial rocket designed to launch unmanned cargo missions to the International Space Station passed a key engine test Friday night (Feb. 22), setting the stage for the booster’s debut flight in the months ahead, NASA officials say.

Full story at Space.com.

An Orbital Sciences Corp. Antares rocket is seen partially assembled ahead of 2013 test flight.
CREDIT: Orbital Sciences Corp.

U.S. opening up airspace to use of drones


Privacy is a concern as FAA sets rules to take flights out of just military purview

By Irene Klotz

After more than 40 years of development and extensive use by the military, the United States has set the date when the nation’s airspace will be open for drones. Should you be scared?

Short answer: No, but like any new technology, unmanned aerial vehicles have their dark side.

Legislation passed by Congress last week gives the Federal Aviation Administration until Sept. 30, 2015, to open the nation’s skies to drones.

The first step comes in 90 days when police, firefighters and other civilian first-response agencies can start flying UAVs weighing no more than 4.4 pounds, provided they meet still-to-be-determined requirements, such as having an operator on the ground within line-of-sight of the drone and flying it at least 400 feet above ground.

Currently, UAVs can only fly in restricted airspace zones controlled by the U.S. military.

By May 2013, the next class of drones, those weighing less than 55 pounds, can fly the nation’s skies, according to provisions of the FAA bill passed by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama last week.

The deadline for full integration of drones into U.S. airspace is Sept. 30, 2015.

Rules about where and when drones can fly and who can operate them are still under development. And there are still technical hurdles, such as setting up the bandwidth for secure UAV radio communications and refining collision avoidance systems, said NASA program manager Chuck Johnson of the Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards, Calif.

But the most pressing issues are privacy concerns and public perceptions.

“Right now, under current U.S. laws there are very few restrictions on our ability to take pictures or videos of individuals outside,” Harley Geiger, a policy attorney with the Center for Democracy and Technology in Washington, D.C., told Discovery News.

“Some of the privacy issues that we see with drones are very different than the sort of surveillance that can be conducted with a helicopter. Drones can quietly watch an entire town without refueling. It can conduct a pervasive and secret surveillance that helicopters cannot match,” Geiger said.

“You can’t avoid it if you’re outside unless you take cover. People don’t want to be on YouTube whenever they go outside,” he added.

That’s not to say that governments, companies and individuals shouldn’t use drones.

“We’re not standing in the way of drone technology. We are saying that there needs to be privacy and transparency rules for its use. Otherwise the American people are going to enter a rather dark period in terms of physical surveillance,” Geiger said.

That could include, for example, having drone operators’ licenses and mission information publicly available online.

Gretchen West, executive vice president with Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International trade group, says drones will have very specific missions, not widespread surveillance.

“It doesn’t mean these aircraft are flying throughout the nation’s airspace. They’ll be used for law enforcement, to monitor traffic, for search and rescue and to track suspects,” she said.

On the commercial side, drones have a huge benefit for the oil and gas industry, agriculture, environmental monitoring and disaster surveillance, she added.

“It’s not meant to sit over someone’s house and take video,” West told Discovery News.

“The new regulations open up the airspace a little bit so we can start collecting more data,” she said. “Because they’ve been regulated so heavily by the FAA and the military, there’s not a lot of information for the FAA to get to make the regulations.”

© 2012 Discovery Channel

In memory of Bob Hawkins


Robert Hawkins (1919 – 2011)

Robert Lee “Bob” Hawkins

POCOMOKE CITY — Robert Lee Hawkins, 92, of Pocomoke City went to be with the Lord on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2011, as a result of injuries suffered in an automobile collision.

Born on June 29, 1919, in Adrian, Mo., he was a son of the late Lora Wright Hawkins and Bryan Wesley Hawkins. His mother passed away when Bob was a teenager and his father married Anna Belle Brown.

After graduating high school, Bob proudly served his country in the U.S. Navy, retiring as a highly decorated senior chief. Following his military service, he entered a career with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, from  which he also retired.

Bob was dedicated to his family, country, community and First Baptist Church. He faithfully served the Pocomoke City community as a councilman from 1988 until his death, as well as many other civic activities. He proudly served on the board of the NASA Federal Credit Union and as chairman of the supervisory committee since 1982. He taught junior golf at the Winter Quarters golf course in Pocomoke City, served on the Planning and Zoning Commission, the Salvation Army board, Kiwanis Club, Tri County Council, Fleet Reserve, Worcester County Commision on Aging, Shriners and just about every one of Pocomoke City Police Department’s community activity programs.

He is survived by his loving, caring and devoted wife of 65 wonderful years, Betty; four children, Carol Smith and her husband, Jim, Robert Hawkins and his wife, Linda, Bryan Hawkins and Debbie Hickman and her husband, Bill; six grandchildren and their spouses, Chris and Tracy Small, Angie and Heath Bunting, Lisa and Carroll Skinner, Bryan and Hillary Hickman, Brent and Kasey Hickman and Brett Hawkins; 12 great-grandchildren, which he loved and enjoyed dearly; a brother, Kent Hawkins; and two sisters Sandra Thomas and Linda Moore.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by one brother, Jack Hawkins, and one sister, JoAgnes Brown.

A funeral service, including military honors, will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday at Pocomoke High School, 1817 Old Virginia Road, Pocomoke City, where the doors will open at 1 p.m. for seating. Interment will be private. The family will greet friends at the Pocomoke City Community Center, 1410 Market St., following the service.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to First Baptist Church, 204 Fourth St., Pocomoke City, Md. 21851.

Arrangements are in the care of Holloway Funeral Home PA, 107 Vine St., Pocomoke City, Md. 21851.To send condolences to the family visit www.hollowayfh.com.

Va., MD woo government for aircraft system test range


RICHMOND (AP) — The governors of Virginia and Maryland are asking the federal government to select the region to host an unmanned aircraft systems test range.

The request was made this week in a letter to Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood regarding the test range that was called for in the National Defense Authorization Act and FAA Reauthorization Bill.

In the letter, Govs. Bob McDonnell and Martin O’Malley highlighted the region’s technical expertise in the defense industry and said that similar design and testing of unmanned aircraft systems already take place in the area. They also said the region has the appropriate airspace for the type of testing and development to be done.

McDonnell’s office said the state have not yet received a response from LaHood.

AUVSI Chairman Lauds the Passage of Legislation Creating Six UAS Test Sites in the U.S



On Dec. 15, Congress passed legislation which calls for the creation of six UAS test sites around the country.

Arlington, VA. – Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) are a step closer to being more widely used in the United States as a result of legislation Congress passed on 15 Dec. (H.R. 1540), which calls for the creation of six UAS test sites around the country.

AUVSI Chairman of the Board Peter Bale said, “the creation of these test sites will mark the first step in what will undoubtedly be a long process eventually leading to a common-day occurrence – manned and unmanned aircraft flying safely and seamlessly together in the national airspace.

“I applaud Congress’ foresight on the important role UAS can play for our economy and public safety, and I encourage the FAA to expeditiously set up these test sites with the input from the unmanned systems community.”

Previously, UAS have been limited to flying in military restricted airspace or in very limited areas with the prior approval of the FAA. Although UAS have primarily been used by the military to date, the civil and commercial applications of this revolutionary technology is almost limitless. Once UAS prove they are able to safely fly in the national airspace, AUVSI projects UAS will commonly be used for border surveillance, agriculture applications, suspect tracking by law enforcement, traffic monitoring and accident scene investigation, disaster response, infrastructure monitoring, wildlife monitoring, power and pipe line monitoring, real-estate mapping and movie production, to name just a few.

AUVSI is the world’s largest non-profit trade association dedicated to the unmanned systems industry with 7,000 members. AUVSI’s advocacy efforts were instrumental in getting these test sites approved by Congress.

Finished product flies in to factory

Boykin, Sharahn D. Daily Times

Employees of Labinal Inc. hosted a visit by the U.S. Army on Tuesday in which an H-47 Chinook cargo helicopter landed at the facility located on Glen Avenue.

SALISBURY– More than half of the Labinal Inc. local work force stood behind the aerospace and defense manufacturing plant on Glenn Avenue looking up at the sky through clear protective glasses Tuesday morning.

The small crowd of 650 employees, some wearing navy blue company T-shirts, were waiting for “the Army’s workhorse” — the U.S. Army Chinook cargo helicopter — which was built from parts manufactured at the plant daily.

Labinal, a subsidiary of the SAFRAN Group, is a high-tech company that manufactures electrical wiring systems for aviation, space and defense sectors. The company purchased Salisbury-based Harvard Custom Manufacturing in 2010, where about 800 workers are employed.

The chopper’s arrival Tuesday marked the first time an aircraft has landed in the plant’s parking lot. For some, it would be the first time they would see the fruits of their labor.

The crowd applauded at 10:01 a.m. as the tan chopper with twin rotors flew over the building and circled around as it prepared to land on the asphalt. With cellphones in hand, several workers raised one arm in the air to record video and photographs of the aircraft before it touched the ground four minutes later.

“It usually means a lot for us to come out and let you see what you do everyday,” said Lt. Col. Bradley J. Killen, the pilot who flew the helicopter. “We wouldn’t be able to do it without you.”

The Chinook has been used by the Army to transport ground forces, supplies, ammunition and other cargo since 1962, according to the military branch’s website. The main cabin of the 23,401-pound chopper can hold up to 33 troops or 24 stretchers.

“This local aerospace and defense contractor is proud to support the Army’s workhorse in a domestic and global marketplace,” said Anthony Rodriguez, the senior operations manger of the Salisbury facility.

More than 300 Labinal Salisbury workers are part of a team that make the cables, harnesses and electromechanical assemblies for the chopper.

“Having the recognition of the end customer is the ultimate testament to our legacy as a company that takes a lot of pride in customer satisfaction,” said Jorge Uribe, Labinal’s U.S. director of operations. “Labinal Salisbury employees should be proud of this important distinction and achievement.”



delmarvaNow article.