The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) in Florida is crediting its drone with locating two lost horseback riders.
According to an MCSO press release, at around 3:30 pm on Jan. 19, deputies responded to a coordinate location in the Edward W. Chance Reserve in response to two equestrians who had been lost for over four hours.
MCSO’s unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) team responded to the scene, and time was of the essence due to the quickly approaching sunset, the agency says.
After the drone searched the area, the two riders were located. Once their position was established, the UAS led deputies in a 4WD Mule to the location, and the deputies then led the stranded equestrians to safety. In total, the aerial mission lasted approximately 52 minutes.
The MCSO has provided footage of the rescue:
According to Part 107 waiver from the Federal Aviation Administration, the MCSO is now permitted to operate its UAS at night, as of Jan. 28.