The massive wildfire raging on Alaska’s Kenai Penninsula is now being monitored by a drone aircraft called ScanEagle. The unmanned aircraft was launched by catapult on Friday to fly over the area and map fire boundaries and hot spots. It is flying its first mission over an Alaska wildfire in almost five years, after receiving permission from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) last Monday. It was Friday morning before the last approvals and issues with restricted airspace were resolved and the plane allowed to fly.
The ScanEagle can fly at altitudes up to 22,000 feet, and can remain airborne for up to 20 hours. It has a wingspan of 10.2 feet and is 5.1 feet in length. The drone carries two different types of camera: one infrared, which shows the contrast of cool areas and heat areas, and a regular visual camera. The aircraft records a video that is analyzed and given to fire officials to analyze the fire and determine their next actions in fighting it.