|Aerospace dean recognizes UAS team's flood-fighting efforts|
In honor of Gov. John Hoeven’s Flood Workers Appreciation Day (June 12) Bruce Smith, dean of the UND School of Aerospace Sciences, recognized three people from the UND Center for UAS (Unmanned Aircraft Systems) Research, Education, and Training for their contributions to the 2009 Red River Valley flood fighting efforts.
In an informal ceremony Saturday, UND senior UAS flight instructors Robert Concannon and Michael Nelson, along with U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer Jonathan Johnson, received certificates of recognition for flying the Customs and Border Protection Predator B MQ-9 unmanned aircraft during the 2009 flood fighting efforts.
“We appreciate all the fine work they did,” said Bill Watson, interim director of the UAS Center. “We feel privileged to have them at UND for this recognition of their efforts.” The team, comprising two UND senior flight instructors, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer and a pilot from General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc., clocked more than 30 hours of flight time.
“We flew between 19,000 and 21,000 feet in Class A airspace, parallel to the Red River,” Nelson said. “We flew as far north as Pembina and to Bismarck-Mandan and Fort Ransom. We also spent a lot of time in the Fargo-Moorhead and Wahpeton-Breckenridge areas.”
Using synthetic aperture radar equipment, the team captured images of the rising river and ice dams, which they sent to the North Dakota and Minnesota Emergency Operations Centers, the National River Prediction Center, the Air Marie Operations Center and FEMA. SAR-which is much smaller than traditional rotating antenna radars-is used for high-resolution mapping of the ground from moving aircraft or spacecraft.
“We took 15 segments of SAR imagery from five miles away looking down on a parallel course along the Red River,” Nelson said. “We tracked 57 bridges and monitored ice flows. There was ice the size of football fields that didn’t melt that could slam into bridges-we almost lost the Thompson bridge.”
As part of a joint effort with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the UAS team furthers the mission of the UND Center for UAS Research, Education and Training by linking with existing regional and national economic and research engines to create new area economic opportunities and to safeguard area citizens.
“There is a real need for UAS pilots. Under Flight Operations Director Al Palmer, these UND flight instructors were subcontracted out to General Atomics to provide UAS training and support to U.S. Customs and Border Protection,” Watson said.
The UND Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems has provided premier research and UAS aviation education through funding provided by Sen. Byron Dorgan since 2005. The UAS Center upholds the vision: “From Tradition to Tomorrow-North Dakota Leads the Way.”
For more information, contact Lesli Riskey, UND Flight Operations, at 777-7815 or email@example.com
-- UND Aerospace