As you know, if you came of age during the space race and watched countless rocket launches from the shores of Cape Canaveral, the aerospace industry has been pretty good to the state of Florida.
The industry employs on the order of 132,000 Floridians, and the state has a special economic development entity called Space Florida. It is chaired by the governor, has an annual budget of $10 million and has a stated vision to make the state "the world leader in developing tomorrow's aerospace enterprise."
Given all that, it was to be expected that when the Federal Aviation Administration put out a call for states to compete to become one of six national test sites for the development of commercial unmanned aerial systems, Florida stepped up with a state-coordinated application bolstered by a $1.4 million commitment from Space Florida.
But Florida has nothing over California when it comes to aerospace.
Before there was Alan Shepard launching into space from Cape Canaveral, there was Chuck Yeager breaking the sound barrier over the Mojave Desert, and before that Howard Hughes pushing aviation envelopes in Southern California.
California was the birthplace of Lockheed, Douglas Aircraft and Northrop, the place where North American Aviation came of age. It was in the aerospace factories of Southern California that the U.S. military's aerospace superiority was forged.
Add the combined military and civilian aeronautical brainpower concentrated around Vandenberg and Edwards Air Force bases, the Point Mugu and China Lake naval test ranges, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and San Diego's General Atomics operations, and it would seem that California has already attained the vision of dominance that Space Florida aspires to.
But what did the great state of California do when it came time to try to position itself as a test site for what nearly everyone agrees will be the next big thing in aerospace?
It did nothing.
Instead, the role of putting together a bid for the testing and development of unmanned aerial systems on the West Coast defaulted to a mid-sized county in Southern California and a little airport district in the Mojave.
The FAA has received 50 proposals from entities seeking one of the test-site designations. Most of the major ones have come from states -- Florida, Texas, Utah, North Dakota and more.
Ohio, home to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, the National Museum of the Air Force and the birthplace of the Wright brothers, teamed with Indiana to submit a single bid.
There is likely some head-scratching taking place at the FAA when administrators note that the two applications from California are headed by the county of Ventura and an outfit called the Indian Wells Valley Airport District.
Gov. Jerry Brown 's Office of Business and Economic Development -- GO-Biz, it is called for short -- has shown no apparent interest in taking a lead on an opportunity to establish a foothold in a significant emerging industry.
To be sure, Brown and the folks at GO-Biz are occupied just now planning for this month's trade mission to China and the opening of a new trade office in Shanghai.
But the business closer to home of seeking to better position California as a potential hub in the unmanned aerial systems industry would seem at least an equal priority.
The two local entities have already done much of the heavy lifting -- assembling teams of academic and industry experts, designing airspace corridors that would safely facilitate testing, and much more.
It likely wouldn't take much effort for Brown's office -- with the consent of the FAA now needed, given that the initial deadline for applications has come and gone -- to step in and consolidate the two regional proposals under the single umbrella of a statewide entity.
Perhaps some in the Brown administration believe an official embrace of drones would be somehow unsavory, given the very real concerns about privacy regulations that must be addressed and resolved before unmanned systems become commonplace in the skies.
But if that's the case, how strange would it be for the state that is home to Facebook, Google, Apple and Yahoo! to decide that technological advances ought to be put on hold until unresolved privacy issues are worked out?
If Go-Biz ever wants to get going on this economic development opportunity, it might start by cribbing from Space Florida's recent newsletter touting the state's "competitive advantages":
Vast network of overlapping controlled airspace. Aerospace facilities. Skilled workforce. Opportunity to test potential beneficial uses of monitoring agricultural crops and wildfires.
Kind of sounds more like the home of Disneyland than that of Disney World, doesn't it?