Frequently Asked Questions

What is the SWARM Network?
SWARM is an online network and worldwide organization of all-volunteer search and rescue drone (UAS) pilots.

When and where did SWARM start?
SWARM was founded by Artist/Drone Photographer, Jim Bowers of Colfax California in 2013. After a successful but tragic search for Eric Garcia, Bowers decided to put together a “NETWORK” of drone pilot volunteers willing to assist families in their desperate search for missing family members.

How can I support SWARM?
We accept donations using the PayPal buttons below.

Equipment and/or financial support are extremely helpful, SWARM also offers T-shirts, Stickers, Patches, and more to come! Click HERE!

Is SWARM a non-profit?

No, not at this time. This will be further explored and pursued, as this site and group mature and expands. The current cost of registering as a non-profit, far outweighs the out of pocket costs of maintaining this site/endeavor. We are and will be open to becoming an official non-profit when the appropriate time and circumstances present themselves. Any donations given at this time are not currently tax-exempt contributions

What does SWARM use its donations money for?

SWARM will always do its very best to provide assistance to all credible requests for assistance. We occasionally will provide a monetary stipend to a pilot member to offset expenses for travel, lodging etc. SWARM also pays for Internet presence and promotion.

Is this web site just for those in the USA?
While this web site may appear a little USA-centric, SWARM is a worldwide organization, with pilots ready to help all over the globe!

Who can file a search request?

We prefer that it be a direct family member of the missing, but can make exceptions in some circumstances.

Are there any costs or fees for SWARMS assistance?

NO! SWARMS #1 mission priority is to provide aid and continued hope to grieving families. No compensation is ever required, though SWARM does allow for and is grateful for any donations to our ongoing global mission. At your discretion, it is permissible for families to provide lodging or food while SWARM pilots are on the scene. (Our pilots are very good at “couch surfing”).

Can you help find missing animals.

Sure Can! We help locate missing animals of all kinds. Fill out this search request for help with that.

How can I sign up as a pilot or volunteer?

Go to this page for an explanation.

Can I join SWARM if I’m not a drone pilot?

Yes. Non-pilot members can participate as ground support, drone spotter and assist with SWARMS administrative needs.

What gear do I need to join your network of volunteers?

A Radio Controlled multi-rotor UAV or a fixed-wing aircraft with a video camera on board. FPV is preferred but not required to join. Members working to install FPV are welcome to join. Other equipment that is helpful in SAR but not a necessity is OSD (on-screen display information) or Telemetry, GPS Tracking, Head Tracking, Gimbal, and the ability to record in-flight video or stills. We continually look for ways to improve our equipment and skills. It is extremely helpful in many searches to have a drone equipped with thermal imaging, and of course, technology is always improving.

Will I get to see the video from the drone search mission?

All searches are recorded with video and/or photos. That footage will be made immediately available to the primary family contact, law enforcement and SAR Incident Commander (IC). SWARM might also post this to a private SWARM location, where our entire network (and you) can study the footage for potentially missed “objects of interest.”

What does SWARM stand for?

Search With Aerial RC Multi-Rotor

What does U.A.S. stand for?

Unmanned Aerial System

How is this web site sponsored? Who is paying for this?

This web site is solely funded by the out of pocket monies of the  founders, as well as the volunteering of their time and talents to maintain and promote it.  Anyone wishing to donate any funding, no matter how small or large, can do so to help offset the cost of this endeavor.

Are there dues or membership fees to join SWARM?

No, not at this time. SWARM operates strictly on donations (and merchandise sales).

Why was this site started/created?

Many of you already know that SWARM was started on a Facebook Group, but that page was not the best place to post missions and other information. Also there was nothing else out there on the internet that was a central depository/repository of UAS SAR information, resources, etc. The new site was created in 2018 and continues to grow in features.

Is there any costs associated with accessing this site, membership or affiliation?

NO! …nada …zilch …zero. We make much of our information available to anyone that works in search and rescue.

Are there SWARM drone pilots in my area?

Most pilots are willing to help with missions that are fairly close to their homes. There are some willing to travel much farther, and in discussing your needs with a pilot, that can be determined. In 2018, SWARM was recognized as the largest Volunteer Search and Rescue organization in the world. With over 10,000 members, SWARM has pilots all over the world.

Is this site/endeavor open and accessible to both individual pilots and SAR groups/agencies?

YES! This web site will be currently available and accessible to all, especially those pilots and groups associated with SAR. There are no commercial profitability motives associated with this web site.

What should I do BEFORE I request help from SWARM?

Always check with local authorities first. Many of them are now using drones in their units as well.
Pinpoint the Last Known Location of the missing person. Most folks know how to look up the address in something like Google Maps, and provide us the link. If not, we can help. 
Provide a complete description, photos, and circumstances of the missing person. (See our “Search Request” page for more details).

Where can I get training?

The best place to start is to go through the “Drone Pilot Groundschool” There will be more training videos provided and also lessons learned from missions. All current trainings are listed under “Training Resources

How do I know if the pilot is qualified and professional?

SWARM pilots are required to pass and hold an FAA Part107 certification along with a registered FAA tail number on their aircraft. The primary Family contact person should also speak DIRECTLY with the SWARM pilot that has been dispatched, prior to engaging in a search effort. We encourage family members to let us know how the mission went. Email: [email protected]

How can I update or change my pilot information?

Simply GO HERE and follow the directions for updating your information. There is a how-to video if you need help on that page.

Got a question not answered? Use our feedback page to send us your question.

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