New Mexico: State University, FAA pursue sought-after drone research

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LAS CRUCES, NM  A single white trailer sits near runway 4-22 at the Las Cruces airport, the antenna on top chatting with the 21.5-foot-long Aerostar A drone parked on the tarmac outside.

This is where New Mexico State University’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Flight Test Center, once the lone such federally approved center in the nation, conducts most flight tests and evaluates procedures for unmanned aircraft as drones increasingly become part of everyday life.

Though drones are most often associated with military strikes on suspected terrorists abroad, scientists and CEOs are turning to unmanned aircraft to expand their research and businesses. Amazon founder Jeffrey P. Bezos said he hopes to use small drones to deliver packages. Some photographers use drones to capture weddings. A tourist recently crashed his camera-equipped drone into Yellowstone National Park’s iconic Grand Prismatic Spring, and other parks have reported problems with drones buzzing loudly overhead or crashing into scenic landmarks as tourists try to capture unique photos.

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