So I think video is the way to go. I shot both pictures and video and the advantage of video is that you can pause and look at it at any time and get more shots. Flying low, slow, and having the camera at an angle to see under trees and so forth is very handy. This works pretty good for flat areas where you need to cover a lot of space. We live in the west so there aren’t tons of trees block my view where I’m flying. We were searching over large areas where it’s just harder for people to walk and search.
I think the goggles might really come in handy with this. I might need to buy a pair. I was flying in some bright sun for a while with the Phantom 4 connected to a large iPad. It works great, but sometimes you just can’t see everything you want to see. I knew there were multiple lines in the area and I had to be careful.
They have now traced the woman to a rather rocky and steep mountain side with a trail that is about 1.5 miles long with over 1000 ft. elevation climb. There are plenty of places to hide if she were to have slid off. So now we are flying in some very steep rocky canyon areas that are hard to cover. We also have Forest Service land mixed with a National park so that is a bit of a problem.
I also found Airdata.com which allows you to upload your flight data and then see lots of data associated with the flight. Including the ability to dump the path to a KML file and import it into Google Earth. In the case of the mountain area it became very difficult to know what I had covered and had not covered. Lots of rocks, trees and the such.
The image below e is the KML file downloaded from AirData and uploaded to Google Earth. So now I have a complete 3d view of where I flew, how high was, and it helps give me the chance to see what I missed and where I can go lower. We’ve then added things to the Google Earth, like a line for the trail we think she was on. A few other points where a trail cam caught her in pictures and where there is a gate that blocks the trail.
SAR has been all up and down the trail…and gone down some of the rock washes…yet they have to be careful not to knock rocks loose and onto the road below.
There are other settings in Airdata that let you see when and where you started video. Or took pictures. And with the video and pictures where you were facing. Very handy.
I have a old friend who is in SAR and I’m working with him to put me into contact with some of the other SAR folks who use drones. I’m sure there is a lot to learn and I think I might volunteer.
I’m also thinking of getting the professional license. Simply because in the canyons I might only be 50 meters off the ground at any given time…but when the hillside and the steep grades I’m much higher than that compared to my launch point. Or simply being able to fly out of view to get to some of the harder to reach areas.
I would be curious to see what you discover. Or how it works for you.