By Howard Roden

As the aircraft sits somewhere on the bottom of Lake Conroe, Montgomery County officials can take solace that their unmanned drove is insured.

Called the Shadowhawk, the vehicle crashed into Lake Conroe Friday afternoon during a training session.

The remote-controlled drone is insured by a Dallas firm, the ACE Group, said Curtis Fitzgerald, safety officer with the county’s Risk Management department.

The Shadowhawk’s policy covers “roughly” $238,000, the “hard costs” of the unmanned aircraft such as the optics and avionics, Fitzgerald said. Soft costs include items such as training fees and warranties that cannot be recovered through an insurance policy, Fitzgerald said.

The MCSO obtained the Shadowhawk in October 2011 through federal grants from the Department of Homeland Security at a cost close to $500,000.

The unmanned vehicle was built by Vanguard Defense Industries, of Spring. Calls to VDI’s offices went unanswered Tuesday.

Lt. Brady Fitzgerald (no relation), public information officer for the MCSO, said the training involved the experienced operators of the drone.

“Certain insured people were authorized to use the drone,” Brady Fitzgerald said.

Brady Fitzgerald said dive teams from Constable Precinct 1 Lake Patrol were out looking for the drone, which was believed to have landed in an area as deep as 40 feet.

Brady Fitzgerald said the divers employed a “grid method” in hopes of locating the drone.

At least one Lake Conroe resident said she viewed an object that looked eerily similar to the drone.

“It was last Friday and I was intrigued. It looked too small to be a helicopter,” said Walden resident Karen Carrothers. “I turned my head and when I turned back, it was gone.”

She said she heard about the drone’s disappearance the next morning.

“I thought that had to be it,” Carrothers said.

Whether the aircraft has a warranty, or whether the MCSO has contacted Vanguard about a replacement drone, are items that remain unanswered. Chief Deputy Randy McDaniel did not return phone calls Tuesday.

By Press