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Outside Fire Mission Failure and Success – Flight Debrief

Outside Fire Mission Failure and Success – Flight Debrief

Wake Forest Fire Department UAS Flight Debrief

Date: 4-6–2018

Flight Time: 20 Minutes

Mission Goals:

Provide information to assist firefighting operations and evaluate the thermal activity of outside fire.

What Went Well:

The following items were conducted without incident:

  1. Communicated with News Chopper 11 over the incident and coordinated block operating altitudes to deconflict airspace.
  2. Established safe LZ.

What Could Have Gone Better:

  1. Dispatched map address did not match incident address so looking at the aerial view of incident location was of no value.
  2. Unable to positively identify exact house during flight with nothing showing at dispatched address.
  3. Due to tight road conditions I was unable to locate LZ near command.
    Unable to visualize actual incident location from a position outside development on road.
  4. From the ground the burned area was clearly visible but of no value from the air.
  5. Considering my initial focus was further up the shared driveway, it was easy to overlook correct location.

Flight Video:


Recommendations From Flight:

Without any visual clues or the ability to clearly see the correct incident property from above, it was extremely difficult to identify target location as someplace other than the displayed dispatch address.

Granted, I could have walked up the driveway to visualize the incident location but from the dispatch information, I believed the location was much further past the gate.

Given the series of events, canopy cover, lack of smoke, lack of dramatic thermal signature, and quick burning ground fire that I’ve studied before in our wildland fire testing in Sandhills, I am hard pressed to identify any radical changes I would have made from the execution of this call.


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About Steve Rhode

The Public Safety Flight website is dedicated to news, honest information, tips, and stories about the use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), UAVs, aircraft, and drones in the fire service and other public safety niches.The site was founded by Steve Rhode, an FAA-certificated airplane commercial and instrument certificated pilot and a very experienced Part 107 UAS commercial pilot. Steve is the Chief Pilot with the Wake Forest Fire Department and the North Carolina Public Safety Drone Academy. He also provides expert advice to drone pilots through Homeland Security Information Network and he is an FAA Safety Team drone expert. Steve loves to work closely with public safety pilots to answer questions and share information, real-world truth, and drone operation advice. You can contact Steve here, learn more about Steve here, or join his public safety pilot private email list here.