UAVs are being used in Alaska in fighting Alaska’s wildfires. Coast Guard assisted with fighting the forest fires that are sweeping through Alaska with the use of an UAV. According to the senators, the Coast Guard was able to fly the perimeter of the forest fires and take infrared photos that provided much-needed information to the fire fighters on the ground.
The Predator Mariner Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, an aircraft equipped for marine operations was flown in support of aerial reconnaissance of wild fires burning in the interior of Alaska on July 9-10 and July 13. The Mariner aircraft flew at altitudes in excess of 30,000 feet and was able to use a high-resolution infrared camera to spot new fires and confirm the position of existing fires. Visual data from the Mariner’s onboard camera was transmitted in real time to the Alaska Fire Service Interagency Coordination Center and the governor’s office. It is unusual to use UAVs as a method to monitor wildfires; however, this use proves the craft’s multiple applications for a variety of agencies.
The UAVs have the ability to fly where manned craft often lack capability. The infrared photos from the drones can pinpoint the fire lines and help fire officials plot strategies to halt the fires’ advance. But the UAVs have drawn concern from general aviation pilots and aircraft owners, who encompass four-fifths of all civil aircraft and two-thirds of all pilots worldwide. Use of unmanned aerial vehicles, however, draws safety regulation concern from general aviation pilots.