In 2015, a consortium led by non-profit industry advocate UAS Colorado, the University of Colorado and representatives from six counties got the FAA green light for the 8,000-square-mile test site.
The consortium worked with air traffic controllers at the Denver Air Route Traffic Control Center in Longmont to gain FAA authorization for flights up to 15,000 feet in altitude.
The SLV UAS Test Site is hubbed at Leach Airport, a key aviation facility and historic airport supporting the entire valley.
About Leach Airport:
Dedicated to Ken Leach 1967, Leach Airport is owned by Saguache County and is available for public use. Attaining several site improvements through former Commissioner Mike Spearman, it contains over 7,000 feet of runway, covering 66 acres.
About Ken Leach:
Born in 1928, Ken Leach was a native Coloradan, flight enthusiast and beloved member of his community. His flying career began in Center, Colorado, during which he compiled over 25,000 flying hours. Known for his selfless acts of kindness and a genuine desire to help others, Ken had a gurney specifically designed for his aircraft so that he could make ambulatory and funeral patrol runs. He made headlines for his search and rescue efforts, heading out on his own private operations as well as life saving missions with the Civil Air Patrol.
Besides offering his plane as a charter service, Ken was a well-respected FAA examiner. He had trained over 500 individuals to fly, including local farmers. His fervent work and dedication to acquiring right always, enabled over 7,000 ft of runway to be built in Saguache County and the Town of Center.
One of the youngest inductees to the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame, Leach Airfield was dedicated to Ken Leach in 1967. To learn more, visit the Colorado Aviation Historical Society website.
“I would rather fly than eat. I’ve never gotten over the thrill of flying.”
Ken Leach, 1984