Drone takeoffs at Carson airport floated

Carson City’s Airport Authority engaged in a brainstorming session Wednesday that produced ideas for airport development including manufacturing or a solar panel array.

Talk of manufacturing took on a twist when authority member Phil Stotts brought up a specific idea for the central triangle land that keyed on a recent announcement about Nevada being a state for drone development.

“That area might be a good place to manufacture drones,” Stotts said. Steve Tackes, authority counsel, raised the spectre of potential problems from mixing unpiloted drones and piloted aircraft. During a discussion, members countered that making them on Carson City Airport property but testing them elsewhere, less-populated areas to the east, could avoid such problems.

It was Lee Griffin, another member, who suggested the other main idea of the evening.

“What about a solar panel array?” he asked, drawing another response from Tackes. The authority’s counsel said it could be done, called it a creative idea but added there could be challenges that would include selling the power generated. He said the logical purchaser would be NV Energy, the state’s electrical utility, but noted the utility’s demand for power has been flat of late.

A third idea involved general manufacturing, and after it came up, member Maurice White suggested working with the Northern Nevada Development Authority or other economic developers to help lure an industry to the airport property. Tim Rowe, airport manager, said there have been discussions with NNDA.

White asked if an official letter to outline airport ideas and approaches would help. Rowe termed that a good idea.

Chairman Guy Williams talked of an overture to city government for help in the drive to find a development partner if it would create jobs. Member Karl Hutter talked of access roads that might be needed when something specific comes to light. In the end, no action was taken.

On another matter, the authority laid the groundwork for a $10 fee for cards providing airport access through the gate system despite vehement objections from Carson City resident Dirk Zahtillo. He particularly objected to longer-term prospects for spending more than $400,000 for gate security and fencing, saying those things could be obtained more cheaply.

Rowe told him that isn’t in airport-improvement plans until 2019, as well as that the project would be bid and that the access card system for vehicles to pass through gates required funding. After the meeting, he said the $10 fee would raise only about $8,000 annually. The authority’s preliminary approval during the session is slated to be finalized next month.


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