New Oregon Governor Makes First Official Visit to Eastern Oregon - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

New Oregon Governor Makes First Official Visit to Eastern Oregon

Posted: Updated:
PENDLETON, WA. -- A controversy forced longtime Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber to resign last month. And this week, the woman who took his place made her first official trip to the Eastern side of the state. 

The star of the event in Pendleton Friday may have been a 21-foot unmanned drone, but many people were here to see new Oregon Governor Kate Brown's first official trip to Eastern Oregon.

Pendleton got their first look at Governor Kate Brown Friday morning. Governor Brown thinks the future of unmanned aircraft lies right here at the Pendleton Airport. 

"Rural Oregon is the perfect test bed to push the evolution in UAS technology into new areas like sustainable agriculture and forestry," Governor Brown said.

The Governor announced the approval of $545,000 in loans to support the Pendleton Unmanned Aircraft Test Site. One of three in the state, in fact they're the only unmanned test sites on the entire West coast.

After that, the action got started. As said best by Pendleton Mayor Phillip Houk.

"Now we watch these things fly," Mayor Houk said. 

First, Governor Brown got an up close view of the $800,000 unmanned drone that will be developed for use as reconnaissance in both industrial and military settings. 

"Using this system or something smaller that's cheap and efficient, a farmer can look across his field and understand what he needs to do to improve his crops," Officer Mark Baeme with the National Guard said. "How to water better, how to fertilizer better."

Then she got to press the button to launch the massive drone into the distance. 

"As a kid in summer school we built rockets and did all sorts of interesting things and you didn't always get your rockets off the ground.," Governor Brown said. "So I was really tickled to push the button and then have the take off and fly away."

The Governor's visit was highly anticipated for several reasons. Oregon's Former Secretary of State took over as Governor after four term Governor John Kitzhaber resigned due to an ethics scandal.

She's also the first openly bisexual Governor in the United States. 

"Do you consider yourself a bit of a pioneer?" we asked. 

"Well Oregon is certainly a state where we have a lot of pioneers," Governor Brown said. "My goal as the 38th Governor of Oregon is to continue to make life better for Oregonians."

As brown's political career takes off, she just hopes to get Oregon's place in the unmanned drone market off the ground. 

This is Governor Brown's final event of her two day stop here in Eastern Oregon. She also met with local tribes and toured a workforce housing development on Thursday.