Choctaw Nation: Sky's the limit for drone program - KTEN.com - Texoma news, weather and sports

Choctaw Nation: Sky's the limit for drone program

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The Choctaw Nation will be part of a drone test program. (NBC News) The Choctaw Nation will be part of a drone test program. (NBC News)

DURANT, Okla. -- The Choctaw Nation is leading the pack when it comes to the newest high tech industry: Drones.

"I feel like we're almost the NASA of Southeastern Oklahoma/North Texas," said tribal Chief Gary Batton.

The Choctaw Nation will be part of the initial unmanned aircraft systems integration pilot program.

"For us, it's about the implementation of drones into modern day society in a safe environment," Chief Batton explained.

To participate in the initiative announced last October by President Trump, tribe had to submit a lengthy application. Theirs was one of 10 applications to be approved by the Federal Aviation Administration out of a pool of 200.

"We're not only pleased about that, but we're pleased for the Nation to earn that achievement and recognition and the opportunity to carry that drone technology forward," Durant Mayor Jerry Tomlinson said.

The designation will let the tribe begin safely testing and validating advanced operations for drones on a 42,000-acre site near Daisy, in Atoka County.

"This just gives us the ability to use this airspace in this innovation and exploratory phase," Chief Batton said.

This UAS pilot program will be used to test drone concepts like package delivery, agriculture analysis and public safety, and will be a huge benefit to the entire economy.

"Our goal is to ultimately partner with the private sector and so that when we start implementation of these, then we will be able to bring those dollars in as tribal dollars which will help grow our economy as a whole," Batton said.

The Choctaw Nation says the sky's the limit for how this program can benefit the Texoma region.

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