Alpena County officials made public this week their interest in a partnership with the Federal Aviation Administration for a training center at the airport involving unmanned planes.
Commonly known as drones, the unmanned aerial systems (UAS) have received a lot of attention and news because of their extensive military use in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
The FAA, beginning this summer, will seek bids to construct six Centers of Excellence for training with the UAS systems.
Given the fact the airport already shares much of its facilities with the U.S. Air National Guard and the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center, it would seem that a center of excellence might be yet another perfect marriage there for everyone.
One of the advantages the CRTC always has enjoyed as opposed to its counterparts in other parts of the country is the vast amount of restricted military airspace with which it can use. The air over Lake Huron, up until the Canadian border, provides a virtual military playground for pilots and their aircraft to test and train in.
With so much of that airspace already occupied by the military, it would remove one important restriction we would imagine other communities might have a hard time competing with.
The training center would be exactly the kind of new economic development we think would be perfect for the region. It would complement businesses and operations already in place, and would provide new growth and expansion possibilities for others.
We're glad to see Alpena County officials actively are seeking this opportunity.