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Search and Rescue

The Hunt for a Lost Airplane

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Searching for Planes From the Air

A guy from the local airfield called and said that he needed help finding a lost airplane. It was a 72" warbird that he was flying late in the day and the sun was low. He flew the plane right in front of the sun while turning base and lost sight of it momentarily. Next time he saw the plane it was going down fast behind a tree line, he pulled up and saw it come back up briefly before going back down again.

They searched for hours and scoured the area. No plane, no luck, but there was one last ditch idea to try and find the airplane. I showed up with my Octo and FPV gear and we set out to try and find the airplane. We've done this one other time and we were able to locate a wing in the middle of a field with brush 6ft high. You could have walked around forever, but using the copter, we were able to spot the location and direct the owner right to the wing.

I had high hopes that we would recover the plane, I had nearly an hours worth of flight time (with 5 batteries) available and we started looking in the most likely location. It quickly became apparent though that this wasn't going to be easy. There were some fairly large trees and thick brush surrounding the area. If the plane buried itself in the ground, there was little chance of seeing it. We flew and flew until all the batteries were exhausted.

Now sadly we didn't recover the airplane this time, but it's still a great idea. We could cover large plots of land quickly and without having to fight through the brush on foot. I think it could be even better with the DJI Ground Station as you could plot waypoints on the map and fly a grid pattern autonomously and use the camera gimbal to look around during the flight. This technology will be used more and more in Search and Rescue efforts and is likely to help find targets more valuable than a model airplane.

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Old Nov 05, 2013, 11:04 AM
Registered User
Joined Jun 2009
397 Posts
Nice! What size batt do you use to get an Hour out of that beast ?

Im envious
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Old Nov 05, 2013, 11:06 AM
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Jason Cole's Avatar
United States, TN, Nashville
Joined Oct 2003
5,174 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by splitboarder View Post
Nice! What size batt do you use to get an Hour out of that beast ?

Im envious
Ha! Can't fly an hour all at once. I used 5 batteries with a little over 10 minute flight times each.
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Old Nov 05, 2013, 05:12 PM
Project Tormentor is flying!
United States, WA, White Salmon
Joined Nov 2005
1,995 Posts
When the GoPro 4 is released, it will support 4k video at 30fps. If you have a 4k resolution screen (and HUGE SD cards...lol!) you will be able to fly a grid pattern with the gopro aiming straight down. After the flight, you can go frame by frame and look for likely objects. If you see something of interest, you will be able to zoom in and look MUCH closer, due to the fact that EACH FRAME in 4k video is a 8.3 Mp photo!

4k video is 3840 pixels 2160 lines. That is twice the resolution of 1080p.

4k video is called UHD (Ultra HD) and it will become the next standard. It will allow for much better search and rescueo operations like the OP tried here.
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Old Nov 05, 2013, 06:52 PM
My hovercraft is full of eels.
USA, TN, Gallatin
Joined Aug 2009
3,290 Posts
Cool idea. I think I saw you flying this setup over the track at the Lobby a couple months back.

Looks like Peeler!

I can't really tell where you are searching. If it landed anywhere near that first small farm house down the road and near the treeline, we've had trouble in the past from the owners of that property. They've been known to snatch planes and not allow folks to retrieve them without involving the police.
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Old Nov 06, 2013, 05:56 AM
KK4NZS
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Virginia
Joined Sep 2006
1,437 Posts
Jason what frame are you using ?.
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Old Nov 06, 2013, 06:48 AM
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Jason Cole's Avatar
United States, TN, Nashville
Joined Oct 2003
5,174 Posts
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Originally Posted by Nelapaty View Post
Jason what frame are you using ?.
It's an old Cinestar style frame from Goodluckbuy. I think OMGFly has them now.
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Old Nov 06, 2013, 08:34 AM
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Joined Jun 2009
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Dang, I thought you had found some type of new batt . I get around 9 with a 5000 mah. What gimbal and camera are you using? Im looking for something to allow me to carry my Canon T3i

Nice looking rig. Im flying a tarot 960
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Old Nov 06, 2013, 08:54 AM
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Jason Cole's Avatar
United States, TN, Nashville
Joined Oct 2003
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Quote:
Originally Posted by splitboarder View Post
Dang, I thought you had found some type of new batt . I get around 9 with a 5000 mah. What gimbal and camera are you using? Im looking for something to allow me to carry my Canon T3i

Nice looking rig. Im flying a tarot 960
On that copter is the Cinestar gimbal modified for brushless motors to carry RED cameras, but I just had my Sony Nex5N for this. I also like the Aura gimbal from Copterframes. You can see my review on that one here and it is large enough to carry the T3i.
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Old Nov 06, 2013, 09:48 AM
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Beerwiser's Avatar
Canada, AB, Mundare
Joined Mar 2011
599 Posts
That is some nice country and pics. It definitely helps to have a camera facing straight down, it seems to penetrate the tree canopy better. I may have had to look for a plane before and always found them to be twice as far as I had original thought. Hopefully you find it.
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Old Nov 07, 2013, 07:48 AM
Registered User
Middle Tennessee
Joined Feb 2009
51 Posts
FPV Search and Rescue

Jason, et.al.:

Here is A video of the "Tricopter"
search and rescue flights,
looking for A Lost Giant Scale Plane ,
during the IMAC contest,
at Clover Creek Aerodrome
searchandrescueone (6 min 14 sec)


NOTE: There is another video (doing the same kind of search) during the same IMAC event at this person's vimeo site.
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Old Nov 07, 2013, 08:32 AM
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TheIcemann's Avatar
United States, MI, Byron Center
Joined Feb 2013
115 Posts
A team of students at my school and I are building a quadcopter for this purpose. I hope it will change the way planes are located.
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Old Nov 09, 2013, 03:34 AM
Stuart
srnet's Avatar
UK, Cardiff
Joined Dec 2008
3,195 Posts
I cant help wondering if one of those simple and cheap ($2) and loud audio locators would have located the plane(s) in a couple of minutes.

Or one of the RF beacons.
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Old Nov 14, 2013, 11:12 AM
Registered User
Rotherham, UK
Joined Dec 2003
186 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by srnet View Post
I cant help wondering if one of those simple and cheap ($2) and loud audio locators would have located the plane(s) in a couple of minutes.

Or one of the RF beacons.

I think your right, being able to drop an RF beacon on the location would save the quad having to loiter if the battery is getting low.
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