USA Drone Port


Board of Directors

Scott Alexander, Perry County Judge-Executive
Steve Barker, Chairman of the Hazard Airport Board
Donna Roark, CIO, Hazard Community & Technical College
Dr. Jennifer Lindon, President of Hazard Community & Technical College
Jeff Dobson, Knott County Judge-Executive
Dr. Deronda Mobelini, Executive Director, University Center of the Mountains


Our Vision

USA Drone Port: National Unmanned Robotic Research and Development Center will access our region's creative assets to craft a world-class unmanned vehicle research, development, training, and education facility.  USA Drone Port will be the premiere model for innovation to reinvent the economy of Central Appalachia and move the region to emerging global industries.

The research and development center is a unique offering for drone research, development, training, and education.  This center will eliminate the need for manufacturers to utilize non-US based, cost-prohibitive facilities that operate outside FFA guidelines.

The National Unmanned Robotic Research and Development Center will offer a 500' runway and circular landing pads, surrounded by Class G airspace, capable of landing fixed wing aircraft including military drones.  The center will also include solution shops, and hangers for students, inventors, technicians, and manufacturers.  The facilities will create a synergistic location for flying, testing, rebuilding, and continued improvement of products.  Gigabit enabled office space, meeting areas, common areas, and computer labs will be available.

The project builds on the assets of Kentucky and the region.  Kentucky is the second largest exporter of aerospace products.  The site is ideally located to satisfy Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) guidelines.  The Wendell H. Ford Airport is a critical partner by providing opportunities for clients to fly in for testing and facility utilization.

Future plans include additions for research and development of land based and underwater based drones.

AML Grants

The USA Drone Port was selected to receive a $1.5 million 2018 AML Pilot grant to construct a cutting-edge, indoor drone flight-testing facility, along with peripheral infrastructure.
The 10,000-square-foot facility will enable all-weather drone research and development and make available drone testing 24 hours a day to private industry, government, and educational institutions. The grant is funded by the U.S. Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) Abandoned Mine Lands and administered by the Perry County Fiscal Court. 

The USA Drone Port will also be the benficiary of an AML grant awarded to the Troublesome Creek Environmental Authority for a $743,000 2019 AML Pilot grant to extend its sewer collection system while adding water service to the site.


From a report by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), March 2013.

AUVSI’s The Economic Impact of Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration in the United States report shows the economic benefit of UAS integration. AUVSI’s findings show that in the first three years of integration more than 70,000 jobs will be created in the United States with an economic impact of more than $13.6 billion. This benefit will grow through 2025 when we foresee more than 100,000 jobs created and economic impact of $82 billion.

While we project more than 100,000 new jobs by 2025, states that create favorable regulatory and business environments for the industry and the technology will likely siphon jobs away from states that do not.

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) are already being used in a variety of applications, and many more areas will benefit by their use, such as:
• Wildfire mapping
• Agricultural monitoring
• Disaster management
• Thermal infrared power line surveys
• Law enforcement
• Telecommunication
• Weather monitoring
• Aerial imaging/mapping
• Television news coverage, sporting events, moviemaking
• Oil and gas exploration
• Freight transport

USA Drone Port