Pendleton drone flights have begun

PENDLETON — The Oregon Army National Guard has begun flying drones over civilian airspace from the airport in Pendleton, using a smaller, unarmed version of the Predator drone.

The Guard's drone operation has for about a decade been sharing space nearby with the Navy at a bombing range near Boardman, where jets from Whidbey Island naval Air Station on Puget Sound simulate low-level attacks, The Oregonian newspaper reported.

With approval from federal aviation authorities, the four Guard drones will fly from Eastern Oregon Regional Airport using nearby wheat fields to work on aerial surveillance in combat.

An initial flight of an RQ7B Shadow took place Tuesday. The craft is 11 feet long with a wingspan of 14 feet and is equipped with infrared and video cameras.

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