An unmanned aerial vehicle trainer from FireFlight Unmanned Aircraft Systems is delivered to the Possum Kingdom East Volunteer Fire Department Monday.
An unmanned aerial vehicle trainer from FireFlight Unmanned Aircraft Systems is delivered to the Possum Kingdom East Volunteer Fire Department Monday. Unfortunately, a mechanical problem resulted in the aircraft being returned to the company after a short demonstration. Left to right are Lauren Newton, Nick Stuckey, both with UAS; Craig Hutson, PK East VFD; Jerry Stuckey, UAS; Aaron Watts, PK East VFD; and Lon French, a veteran remote aircraft pilot who offered to help teach piloting skills. (Mark Engebretson)
Owners of FireFlight Unmanned Aircraft Systems, based in Oklahoma City, were at Possum Kingdom Lake Monday to deliver an unmanned aircraft trainer in preparation for aircraft that will eventually be used over wildfires. However, a mechanical problem led the trainer being returned to Oklahoma City for repairs. In early June, representatives from the company demonstrated the aircraft's capability at the Possum Kingdom East Volunteer Fire Department. Representatives from the Brazos River Authority, Graham Fire Department, Palo Pinto County Sheriff's Office and Caddo VFD also attended. Monday, Jerry Stuckey, along with Nick Stuckey and Lauren Newton, delivered the aircraft and gave a flight demonstration. The PK East VFD has had a flight simulator for a number of months which allowed members to practice their skills before actually flying the trainer. "We do all the training from start to finish," Jerry Stuckey said. In June, Greg Ward, who has extensive experience with Channel 9 in Oklahoma City with video and audio reporting from aircraft, explained some of the capabilities. "The flexibility is endless, you can configure it a number of ways," he said. The 4.4-pound aircraft can be equipped with forward looking video with a variety of possible lenses, infrared and thermal imaging among the options. He also said there are a number of options for flying the aircraft, from line of sight, to first person with a computer monitor much like a video game, to programming it to specific coordinates. "Flight time is generally two hours," Ward added. "We're putting auto pilots in all of these. It can return to the GPS location where it was launched, circles and waits to land."