20. ARES and UAVs

Greetings again from Clark County, celebrating its bicentennial this year.

Drones have been in the emergency management news several times in the past few weeks.  One story reported that an entire fleet of forest fire aircraft was grounded when someone flew a drone into a fire zone in the vicinity of those aircraft, potentially endangering the aircrews beyond the usual dangers of forest firefighting.

On a more positive note, today’s issue of the ARRL ARES E-Letter spotlighted a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) in Connecticut that has started using drones for damage assessment.  This CERT team has four drone pilots and four observers who have already used a drone to spot downed trees and wires from the air.

Rick Palm, editor of the ARES E-Letter, suggests that drone equipped ARES groups might not be too far in the future.  Perhaps they are already in operation.  Anyone considering this step should obtain an FAA Drone Pilot License, and, if required by FAA regulations, should register their drone as well.

Prepared by Michael Schulsinger, N8QHV