SkySentry is proud to announce its sponsorship of the 2014 Large Wildland Fires Conference, conducted from May 19-23 in Missoula, Montana by the International Association of Wildland Fire. At the conference, SkySentry introduced its newly designed FrontierSentryTM aerostat-based austere environment surveillance and communications system.
Certain mission sets, like forest fire fighting, Search and Rescue, and fire spotting demand supporting equipment to be rugged, expedient, and persistent with a minimal manpower and supply bill. SkySentry’s smallest aerostats—its Tactically Expedient Aerostats (TEAs)--configured for austere environment operations, meet these requirements precisely. The overriding advantage of these aerostats over UAVs, manned aircraft, and satellites is the capability to stay on station for days at a time, with virtually no operator attention. The FrontierSentryTM model is based on TEAs of 15 cubic meters and smaller. The aerostats can operate from an inflatable ground base, trailer, or in some cases, the back of a Utility Terrain Vehicle. When mounted, the integrated system can be moved while flying or moored at speeds up to 35 knots, to keep up with transient operations in the most rugged terrain. FrontierSentryTM is best suited for light-weight radio relays and surveillance cameras in mountainous or desert terrain. Since these integrated systems are specially designed for mountainous terrain, we encourage customers to consider the effects of thin mountain air and hot temperatures on aerostat lift, so a large enough system is acquired to meet lift demands.
During flight operation demonstrations at the University of Montana, SkySentry showed how the aerostat could fly in severely restrictive locations, since it was surrounded by trees, buildings, and other significant obstacles. The high definition camera flown on the aerostat photographed a small number of the conference attendees, as shown in the accompanying photo, as well as demonstrated high definition video of the mountainous terrain surrounding the University of Montana.
Besides the somewhat more obvious applications of FrontierSentryTM toward monitoring the progress of wildfires, considerable interest arose among conference attendees relating to use of the aerostat system to study fire behavior and progression in a controlled, scientific environment. This could include use of multi-spectral imagery, which will be researched and added to SkySentry’s inventory of sensors and communications nodes.