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The following is the information on which I also sent above as a doc file – On January 19th, 2019 Cheryl Copithorne McBee went missing in the Redding area near Mount Lassen in California. Search and Rescue
At this point, we don’t even know if Cheryl is in the area which was extensively searched. I wanted to take a couple of minutes to thank the SWARM and the Wings of Mercy UAS SAR teams for their amazingly kind and professional help as we set out on our first SAR mission with our two drones, neither of which had mapping capabilities. It was a very difficult, remote area to fly in and we kept losing contact between our controller and the aircraft. We did the best we could and at the end of both missions, we uploaded the images to the group at SWARM and Wings of Mercy. Shane kicked right in with his software and began scanning while the rest of us eyeballed the photos meticulously. Members of both SWARM and Wings of Mercy joined in the online search and sent over any clues they could find. The huge difficulty we were faced with was that the clothes were found so we had absolutely no identifying factors such as color to look for when scanning. Searching for a naked human form in a wooded area with downed trees and logs left a whole lot up to the imagination of those scanning and the software came up with too many false negatives because Caucasian skin is the exact same color as bleached logs.
So, what did we learn from this experience? First of all, we were assured by the family that it was a great comfort to them to have us on location actively searching. They were very impressed with all of the technology available which could scan the area much more effectively than a helicopter could unaided without cameras and a multitude of scanners as we had. Even though we did not find Cheryl the family found much comfort in knowing they had tried everything they knew how, and the team effort and volunteers gave a sense of community in an impossibly difficult time. I personally was amazed at the professionalism and teamwork that was so abundantly offered to us, free of charge and with enthusiasm and love. Both SWARM and Wings of Mercy Team members were only ever a message away from me and worked tirelessly into the early hours of the morning on both missions searching and scanning every single inch of the 700 or so photos we shot.
My “take away” from it all was
Was the UAS SAR a failure? Certainly not! First of all, you cannot find someone that may not even be there and secondly, we were able to provide much comfort and love to a family that was suffering incompressible pain. The online support and the many people that jumped in and began scanning the images from all over the globe were absolutely amazing! We helped a family that needed our help and we put our arms around them from many counties in the world, that in itself would send me back out looking
UAS Part 107 Pilot.
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