Violent thunderstorms raged across southern New Jersey Tuesday, causing widespread power outages and wind damage. Winds whipped across the cape in excess of 80 miles per hour, downing trees and power lines, and ripping roofs off of buildings. When it came time to survey the extensive damage, Cape May County already had eyes in the sky.
The New Jersey Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Test Site was conducting flight operations of the largest civilian UAS ever flown by a United States test site this week from Cape May County Airport. The Aircraft, Navmar’s Tigershark, flew for more than seven hours on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The Tigershark has a wingspan of 22 feet and weighs in at more than 400 pounds. Capable of flying for 12 hours, the Tigershark has proven itself a reliable platform for military surveillance missions overseas.
The Test Site was conducting operations to train Navmar’s crew members and to test out a new high-resolution camera, but when the storms struck Tuesday evening, a special opportunity presented itself. The Delaware River and Bay Authority took advantage of the craft, authorizing an aerial survey of the airport area to assess the damage left in the wake of the storm.
“We’ve always known of UAS’ potential to aid in disaster relief efforts,” said Anthony La Sure, Range Safety Officer and Air Boss for the Test Site, “But this marks one of the first occasions where these capabilities have been demonstrated in a real-world scenario.”
The high-resolution imagery gives officials a clearer picture of the damage, enabling them respond with a more efficient, coordinated effort to restore power, clean up the damage and make repairs.
“This is exactly the type of scenario we have in mind when we conduct our research and training,” said La Sure. “It’s fortunate that when the storm struck, we already had the tools in place to aid in the recovery.”
The New Jersey UAS Test Site, sponsored by the New Jersey Innovation Institute and La Sure’s own UAS company Pentagon Performance, conducts research and flight operations in conjunction with the FAA to further the push to integrate UAS into routine aviation operations across the country.
Source: Pentagon Performance, Inc.
Date: Jun 28, 2016