Fri, Jun 30, 2006
Would Fly At Night... When Manned Planes Can't
Could crews battling harsh
summertime wildfires throughout the country one day benefit from
UAVs? That's a question NASA is seeking to answer... and from the
sound of it, the agency may just be on to something.
Scientists with NASA's Ames research facility in California are
experimenting with a specially-equipped drone aircraft, that could
provide firefighters an overhead look at the flames on overnight
missions. Manned observation and firebomber planes are grounded at
night for safety reasons.
As NASA research scientist Vince Ambrosia put it to Los Angeles
television station KNBC... the drones would be an ideal answer to
"Triple-D" missions -- dull, dark, and dangerous -- in that they
could orbit a fire for hours on end, monitoring the path of the
flames... while keeping human firefighting pilots out of
Earlier this month, the US Forest Service intentionally set
fires at California's Fort Hunter Liggett to test the UAVs'
abilities... and the results, reportedly, are encouraging.
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