Abilene, Texas-headquartered Chaney Aerospace LLC is collaborating with Chloeta Fire LLC – a Jay, Okla.-based provider of wildland fire consulting and contracting – to develop wildfire-fighting strategies using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
Throughout the spring, Chaney Aerospace will be flying its Skyhunter UAV over prescribed burns in Oklahoma and Texas in order to further test equipment and expand operations conducted by Chloeta Fire.
“UAVs present a unique capability to provide low-cost aerial imagery on active wildfires,” explains David Atkins, field logistics officer at Chloeta Fire. “By working with Chaney Aerospace, we will be able to practice integrating UAVs into future wildfire operations where manned aircraft are typically used. We will also be able to obtain data that can be used in the prevention of wildfires.”
Chaney Aerospace plans to fly with video recording sensors and take still images for post-processing to obtain vegetation data. Live video streaming will give ground operators the ability to monitor the fire from an aerial perspective, the company says.
The Skyhunter is a fixed-wing UAV that can carry up to 4 lbs. of payload and fly upwards of 90 minutes (depending on the payload). Making it ideal for flying in remote locations where landing strips are not always available, the drone also features hand-launch and recovery-via-belly-landing capabilities.
“Chloeta’s extensive experience in wildfire logistics will provide invaluable testing for future development of drones for wildfire prevention and management by Chaney Aerospace,” adds Will Chaney, CEO of Chaney Aerospace.