Jobs for drone pilots in American wildfire crises

Jobs for drone pilots in American wildfire crises

Hiring a drone pilot could help protect my family

My sister who moved away from California to ride out the Covid pandemic in a beautiful forest hideaway above Lake Pend Oreille in Idaho is suffering a constant inability to breathe.

This is not from Covid, but from wildfire smoke drifting across the entire country. She sends me maps showing great red and purple plumes surrounding her forest home, and photographs of murky views of the lake obscured by smoke. The actual fires have not yet reached her, and if they do, my hope is that drone pilots get there first.
The opportunities to fly over these vast fires is exponentially amplified by the use of drones.

Accurate, agile, and non-threatening to human life, drones are a miraculous asset to
firefighting and search and rescue operations. They can get above the fires and into the smoke in a way not even possible for helicopters, whose pilots would choke in the thick smoke.

Prevention is better than cure:

New drone tech for ignition management.

Of course we all fear that the increasing severity of these wildfires is due to climate change, and fighting that is difficult because of ideological barriers amplified by misinformation. It is clear, though, that wildfires are getting worse and American tech needs to step up with solutions to keep people safe as summers get hotter.

Dedicated drone tech firms like Drone Amplified are rushing in to supply brilliant new
technology to assist firefighters. Drone Amplified has taken cognizance of historical fire-prevention techniques used in the past by Native Americans, who understood that forest species rely on occasional fires as part of their life cycle. Drone Amplified is thus creating dedicated tech for managed ignition of fires, to create areas where the undergrowth is burnt back in a healthy manner.

Drones tech being developed for search and rescue operations.

Another burgeoning area of jobs for drone pilots is in search and rescue operations resulting from the scourge of wildfires. Brilliant new tech is being created and supplied by AltiGator Unmanned Solutions.

A brilliant contribution from this kind of tech is for many personnel to be able to watch real-time footage supplied by a drone pilot. Not only does this supply views of fires not previously available, but highly skilled ground crews can respond directly to what the drone is seeing without even needing to be on-site first. The efficiency and savings implied in a situation like this are hugely beneficial to helping victims of wildfires.

Infrared drone footage helps identify humans and other mammals.

Another crucially helpful adaptation of drone technology is using infrared thermal imaging cameras that can detect human beings or other warm animal bodies. This is helpful in search and rescue operations conducted in three common conditions which make these operations particularly difficult: working at night, working in thick smoke, and working in forested areas where trapped bodies may be obscured by vegetation.


Jobs for drone pilots are going to be on the increase due to this tragic wildfire scourge. Fire-fighting units, farmers and ordinary families are going to have reason to hire a drone pilot.

I am so grateful that this new technology is developing so fast, as it is needed to protect my family.

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Patrick Egan

Editor in Field, sUAS News Americas Desk | Patrick Egan is the editor of the Americas Desk at sUAS News and host and Executive Producer of the sUAS News Podcast Series, Drone TV and the Small Unmanned Systems Business Exposition. Experience in the field includes assignments with the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command Battle Lab investigating solutions on future warfare research projects. Instructor for LTA (Lighter Than Air) ISR systems deployment teams for an OSD, U.S. Special Operations Command, Special Surveillance Project. Built and operated commercial RPA prior to 2007 FAA policy clarification. On the airspace integration side, he serves as director of special programs for the RCAPA (Remote Control Aerial Photography Association).