Predators Land Near Houston

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Pilots in the Houston area are beginning to wonder what it will be like to share the airspace with a fleet of unmanned aerial vehicles slated for deployment at Ellington Field. The Air Force has announced that 12 Predators will be based at Ellington as it prepares to take away the F-16s currently attached to the 14th Fighter Wing of the Texas Air National Guard. Ellington is in the middle of some pretty busy and complex airspace. It's actually within Houston's Class B and is seven miles from William P. Hobby Airport and 24 miles from George Bush Intercontinental. "I wonder how the UAVs will integrate with normal piloted traffic in this very busy airspace," inquired an AVweb reader who tipped us to the story. However, the airspace issues were not addressed in the breathless announcement about the deployment, which will come with about 450 jobs. Gov. Rick Perry said the UAVs will be used to patrol the Texas coast and also to watch for illegal immigrants crossing the Mexican border. The Coast Guard also wants to use the planes.