Aerial Fire Tech


Real-time Wildfire Mapping and Aerial Thermal Infrared Live Streaming to SmartPhones & Tablets


Tracking gimbals, simple microbolometers or hi-rez step-stare giga-pixel imagery transmits live color and infrared along with real-time maps to tactical firefighters and Incident Command (IC). 

Cameras and maps are viewed and managed in the plane or not.  Drone like operation of imaging-mapping systems (not piloting) is equal from the ground (called manned-UAV). Imagery and Artificial Intelligence (AI) maps are auto-distributed and viewed live by unlimited people on phones, pads & PCs within 2 seconds of raw capture. Microwave MANET provides low latency hi-speed connections over 100 miles per hop line of sight (LoS) with auto-tracking antennas, while the multi-nod mesh can connect most of California all at once

Drone gimbals on manned aircraft offer operation from the ground (front-line firefighters or IC) or in the plane by touching targets on the IR screen, hands-free lock-on, auto-tracking fire, and dozer lines. 
Stabilized super zoom will see details or zoom out to show the big picture. Live AI fire
-maps, split screen with live IR/Color provide Augmented Reality to everyone the fire raising situational awareness (SA) to shared situational awareness (SSA).

From inexpensive CloudCap Tase 200 to high-end FLIR 380, a gyro-stabilized gimbal can provide flexible alternatives.

ISR gimbals used for wildfire mapping and tactical live streaming shared situational awareness

Fixed Mounted Pervassive IR

Passive Hands-free Thermal Infrared: Good thermal IR cameras have become so inexpensive and small that there is no reason not to install one on every fire plane and helicopter.  Installation & FAA certification a 1/4oz camera is also easy, and so is usage.  A fixed mounted FLIR enables visualization and live mapping through smoke and dark. Requires no training, operator or extra person board.  It is so easy that on the first flight the pilot and any crew will become completely functional. 

Step Stare Giga-Pixel Imagery and Real-time AI maps
Overwatch Imaging TK systems capture step-stare multiple color and infrared spectrums from airplanes like satellites do from space. Overwatch's TK operations screen mosaics and shows heat polygons in real-time. This screen transmitted live to firefighters provides immediate situational awareness. Additionally, color and infrared imagery can be built into giga-pizel msaics of the whole fire. These giant mosaics can be 16 bit, thus allowing much better ESRI processing to create very accurate fire perimeters. 

Cellular first, Satellite slowly, or fast MANET. NOn board routers provide fail-safe connectivity using the strongest signal. If low altitude, no ground station needed for 
Live Streaming IR automatically using Cradlepoint or Peplink cellular routers. The passive IR becomes an h.264 or h.265 steam that is directly accessible over a cellular static ip address. Better is to stream to a service like TerraFox (static ip not needed), who will redistribute to as many people as you designate.  Using a MISB/Stanag encoder, like a Vitec Pico, will stream Stanag/MISB video for mapping.

Easier, the Flir Vue and Flir Duo have Micro SD chips recording 14-bit imagery and all of the IMU/GPS data for even more detailed mapping after landing. Agisoft software will stitch an accurate ortho-mosaic of whatever is flown over.

LWIIR 14-bit is the best choice for fire mapping and viewing.  MWIR 14-bit is as good, but expensive. SWIR is not needed. see details

Transmitting Fire Perimeters down to Earth over Cellular, Satellites, or MANET. 2-seconds to Authorized people.
Cellular is fast, easy, and often works, except at higher altitudes. Tankers/helicopters and Air Attack are often within range. Satellite is currently expensive to impossible to install, expensive to use, and slow, although this could change soon with systems like StarLink more common. MANET like Silvus and Persistent Systems can be faster and ubiquitous but requires an expensive ground setup that normally won't be normally available during Initial Attack (IA is 95% of the fires)).  


 History, movies, and articles:
  - Requested funding to hire Agisoft and ESRI consultants to automate stitching of low-cost and high-cost thermal IR into highly accurate fire-wide ortho-mosaics
  - Wall Street Journal article about FIRIS mapping of IA wildfires
  - Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA) and 5 Southern California counties rollout Live Streaming Thermal IR to firefighters, and near-real-time perimeter mapping with WiFire modeling fire spread
  - 4 bonded low-cost modems using FirstNet and Verizon stream live thermal infrared video from drone gimbal on a manned ISR aircraft to firefighter's personal phone
  - MANET mesh networks streams live streams infrared video over 70+ miles direct link from Los Alamitos Joint Forces Base to Maria Fire near Santa Paula
  - Installed AeroComputer UC-6000 for Augmented Reality street overlays on the IR video live streaming to firefighter's handheld mobile device
  - Installed and operate FireFlight single FLIR TAU 2 maps wildfires with Artificial Intelligence (IA). Dial-in thermal thresholds real-time to map black or intense heat
  - Event News Enterprise article about FIRIS real-time mapping

  - Operate three flying aircraft gimbals simultaneously from home office desk while Air Attack's is over Utah, Oregon & California fires using cellular connectivity
  - Live streaming (~2 seconds) aerial full-motion video (FMV) to an unlimited number of users: Viewed in a simple browser on Android, iOS, Windows and Mac
  - Thermal Thresholds for simple live viewing of wildfire infrared on firefighters mobile phones (YouTube) 
  - Oklahoma fires video (YouTube) posted to Facebook received a record number of views 
  - Use ForeFlight to transmit retardant targets from Air Attack to tankers and helicopters
  - Division supervisor on the ground at the forefront operated the infrared gimbal from to scan for spotfires and slopovers. Team fire maps work on ForeFlight and Cal Fire publish MBTiles
  - Flew Manned-UAV to map Santa Rosa fire and transmit live video to IC team (YouTube)
  - Common Operating Picture (COP): Live sharing of fire perimeters, maps, and photos between Incident Command (IC) the plane and emergency operations center (EOC). Shared Situational Awareness (SA)
  - Soberanes fire tornado over a mile long (YouTube) 
  - Live broadcast of fire video with a contextual moving map to firefighters
  - XYhT article: Surrogate UAS (page 36)
  - IR+GIS as an off-the-shelf product. Tase 200 with or with Microwave (IR+GIS-2) control from the ground available from integrators
  - Bring IR+GIS to more aerial firefighter cockpits worldwide and stream it 
realtime to the ground 
Tase 200 installed for three Air Attack Aircraft. Remote control from the ground over microwave Silvus radio link operates the drone gimbal hitchhiking on manned-aircraft
  - New presentation slides and 59-second movie about Air Attack IR+GIS for TFRSAC (Tactical Fire Remote Sensing Advisory Committee) in Sacramento
  - Delivered moving-map GIS to 8 dozer operators and ground firefighters on iPhones & iPads
  - 3rd year FAIRGIS teaching at Region 5 ATGS refresher.  slides: Air Attack refresher course at McClellan, Sacramento, CA
  - Won 1st place in Silicon Valley, and two other developer awards for a SmartPhone & Tablet app that will automatically overlay fire Tactical GIS on moving-map topos
  - Side Looking Infrared brought thermal visualization of the fire through smoke and dark to Air Attack teams
AirborneGIS and/or IR flew on twenty CalFire & Fed Air Attack planes.  Equipped planes could operate over smoke and darkness
  - Spearheaded the use of Avenza PDF Maps on iPads to replace Windows Tablets
  - Live Moving map on touch Windows Tablets using DeLorme XMap

Future Topics

- Nadir mapping cameras

- Thermal Thresholds

- Artificial Intelligence heat polygons

- Operate gimbal from the ground

- Live mapping

- NIROPS mapping

- Streaming live video with 2-second delay

- Cellular downlink

- MANET microwave mesh

Microwave MANET has reached up to 120 miles single-hop line of sight (LOS) from Los Angeles to Mexico.
Courtney Aviation FireView van deployed on Soberanes fire

About: is a non-profit org since 2007 run by Mark Zaller, an Air Attack Pilot. This content is provided for free as a service for the worldwide community of aerial firefighters.  

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