Unmanned Aerial System: Behind the Scenes
One of our major goals within the SWFSC's UAS Program was to develop systems that could be taken into the field and operated by scientists. Our field testing had clearly demonstrated that the hexacopters from Aerial Imaging Solutions provided the best mix of cost, ease of operation and effectiveness in the field. The next step was to train a team of field scientists to understand the basic electronics and mechanical aspects of these platforms, and then to fly them. For this first effort, we selected Jefferson Hinke and Douglas Krause from the Antarctic Ecosystem Research Division.
Click on image above to see the training in action
The initial phase of flight training began with hours of effort on the flight simulator. For the next phase, we decided to work around the bureaucratic overhead of FAA clearances by training indoors. We rented a large hangar at Gillespi Field and it work out better than we had hoped. One benefit that we hadn't thought of was that when you are flying indoors you have to maintain complete control over the aircraft to avoid hitting the walls or ceiling. When you are flying outdoors it is a little easier because you can always gain more safety by flying up. For the final stage of training we obtain permission to fly at Camp Roberts, near Paso Robles, CA. This is special use airspace that is controlled by DOD and again allowed us to avoid the requirement for airspace clearances by the FAA.