Calif. Guard Deploys Predator to Support Firefighters
The California Air National Guard used an unmanned MQ-1 Predator to improve the incident commander’s ability to monitor conditions on the ground in the massive wildfire devastating remote areas around Yosemite National Park, according to a Department of Defense report.
The Guard’s 163rd Reconnaissance Wing flew the aircraft in late August to collect real-time information about where the Rim Fire was moving, where it was controlled, and to identify safe routes of retreat for firefighters.
The aircraft’s pilots, located at March Air Reserve Base in Riverside, Calif., remained in constant contact with Federal Aviation Administration air traffic controllers from takeoff to landing. Whenever possible, the Predator flew over unpopulated areas, and when it went outside of the restricted airspace for the fire, a manned plane escorted it.