KNT remodel to house UAS program

The tribes’ unmanned aerial systems program saw key developments in recent weeks.

A big development is the remodeling work that is going on at the lower floor at the Kah-Nee-Ta Lodge.

Warm Springs Construction is remodeling the old gaming commission rooms into a state-of-the-art UAS training and conference center. The work began in June, and should be done around October, said Tom Strong, Construction project supervisor.

This is funded through a state grant. The first part of the project involved tearing out the old carpet, window blinds and other interior aspects of the old rooms. The Construction team hauled away probably a hundred yards of the old interior, Strong said.

Construction then framed up new walls, sanded the paneling, and otherwise prepared the area for the new facility, which is going to be high-tech.

Drone park

The UAS program and Tribal Construction are part of Warm Springs Ventures, the tribes’ economic development enterprise.

Another project that Ventures and the UAS program are working on at Kah-Nee-Ta is a drone park, which would be unique.

Aurolyn Stwyer, business and marketing manager at Ventures, explains some of the basic aspects of this idea:

The park would feature a large enclosed net structure, similar to an aviary.

The enclosure would mean the park is considered indoors, and would therefore be regulated as a recreational hobby zone.

The enclosure would also provide for the safety of patrons, and prevent damage to the drone hardware.

The park could be used for drone recreation, and for flight training.

The target markets would be Portland, Bend and the Columbia River gorge.

There is an opportunity for drone park patrons to have a special rate package at Kah-Nee-Ta, Ms. Stwyer said.

In other recent news from the UAS program:

Working with Ventures, a certified FAA pilot conducted drone pilot training with three employees of the Branch of Natural Resources Fire Management.

Employees with BNR Fisheries and habitat restoration, wildlife management , and Cultural Resources, as well as Ventures staff also took part in the training.

This was a pilot study for the upcoming Kah-Nee-Ta training center at Kah-Nee-Ta: A key component of the training was preparation for the upcoming FAA Drone Pilot certification test, set for later this month.