BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — A drone assisted crews with a wildfire in the northwestern corner of Yellowstone National Park.
An unmanned aircraft system was used Monday on the fire, which has burned more than 3 square miles (8 square kilometers) in the park and on the Lee Metcalf Wilderness south of Big Sky, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported .
It was the first drone to be used on fires in both Yellowstone National Park and the Custer Gallatin National Forest, according to fire spokesman Jeff Gildehaus.
“It’s definitely a huge advantage in terms of reducing exposure to hazards for firefighters,” Gildehaus said.
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The drone took photos, mapped the perimeter and took infrared data showing the fire’s hottest spots, all work usually done by manned aircrafts, Gildehaus said.
The drone was operated by Belgrade-based Bridger Aerospace, one of four companies contracted through the Department of the Interior to respond on-demand to fires and other emergencies.
The drone is called a Silent Falcon. It’s a fixed-wing craft with an electric motor, about 6 feet (2 meters) long with a wingspan of 14 feet (4 meters).
The drone flew at about 11,000 feet (3,350 meters) in altitude — well above where helicopters normally fly, Gildehaus said.
Information from: Bozeman Daily Chronicle, http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com