Warner: State must move quickly to land drone windfall

If Virginia – and more specifically Hampton Roads – wants to be a player in the lucrative development of drones for nonmilitary use, its leaders have to move fast, U.S. Sen. Mark Warner said Friday.

Warner, who made a personal fortune as an early investor in cellphones, predicted that experimentation with drones “could be the beginnings of an industry every bit as large as the telecommunications explosion 30 years ago.”

The state won a key victory in December when the Federal Aviation Administration selected a Virginia Tech proposal to develop test sites for unmanned aerial vehicles. The new Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership also includes New Jersey’s Rutgers University and the University of Maryland.

Suggesting that the competition will be fierce, Warner told more than two dozen people representing aviation firms, the military, universities and state and local government in an Old Dominion University conference room that there’s little time to waste.

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