2011-04-06, Dennis Zaklan, NMSU Physical Science Laboratory

Club president, Richelle Ponder rang the bell to open the meeting. Elaine Szalay gave the invocation. Richelle then led us in the Pledge of Allegiance. Paul Comeau led the club in singing “America the Beautiful.” Then we greeted one another and learned later that Matt Holt was the mystery greeter. We had 4 guests of Rotarians. There were no visiting Rotarians. Three of our high school student guests were introduced. (Pictures below:  left, New Rotarian Training; right, Anita at the piano.) 

New Rotarian trainingAnita Blackburn at the pianoHappy bucks were gathered from Lya Jordan in honor of her aging husband, Jay. Curt Coleman and Mary Ellen McKay had reasons to be happy as well, but they kicked-in less than did Lya.

PSL logoThe Program, Dennis Zaklan, Physical Sciences Lab, NMSU

After a brief introduction from his boss Jay Jordan, Dennis stepped forward to talk about unmanned aircraft. To accommodate a number of different aircrafts that are without human pilots, Dennis used the term UAS, Unmanned Aircraft Systems. After spending 30 years in the U.S. Navy, Dennis came to NMSU.

Dennis ZaklanWhile UAS are exciting, the FAA is still trying to get a handle on how to regulate this new industry. There are many complicated issues that must be addressed. Most of us think of Drones, as used in military attacks. But, UAS have a number of applications. For the past 12 years, PSL has been working with companies who use or create UAS.

In southern New Mexico, we have about 15,000 square miles of available airspace that has little air traffic to worry about. Thus, we are strategically located to invite and conduct UAS test flights. Currently there are 7 different aircrafts that NMSU has been associated with. The Sun Light Eagle is one of them. It was on exhibit in the Smithsonian before it was released for addition flight testing and research in Las Cruces. The Aerostar is another UAS that flies out of Las Cruces airport. The BATTT III is an aircraft that does aerial surveys of ground level vegetation.

Current users of UAS include U.S. Federal Agencies such as the Dept of Agriculture, the Dept. of Interior, and the Homeland Security Dept. Given the advantages of aerial surveillance, various law enforcements agencies are very interested in the future of UAS. Even shipping companies such as UPS and FedEx are waiting for opportunities to ship packages via UAS. Because of the growing interest, a plant will be coming to Las Cruces to build aircraft right here in town.

Questions at the end of the program revealed that the Spaceport just north of us may become an important component in UAS. We also learned that the different aircrafts have varying flight times, ranging from 30 minutes to 36 hours.

After the Program

Curt Coleman won the drawing, and we collected $81. The 4-Way Test was recited as we closed the meeting. 

<prior week   following week>

Guests of Rotarians

Guest  Host
Peggy Vanlandingham Gerald Thomas
Sue Groth Eddie Groth
Anna Mae Evans Kent Evans
Brandon Downs Chris Dulany

Visiting Rotarians

Rotarian Home Club

Student Guests

Student School
Kevin Schulmeister Mayfield
Tyler Gilliland Oñate
Marissa Guerra San Andres


Rotarian Date Club
Dave Hansen 3/10 Mesilla Valley
Dave Hansen 3/17 Mesilla Valley
Dave Lemen 3/24 Anthony
Dave Lemen 4/13 Rio Grande

Submitted by Blaine Goss Blaine Goss