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    Small remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS), also known as unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), are expected to provide important contributions to wildland fire operations and research, but their evaluation and use have been limited. Our objectives were to leverage US Air Force-controlled airspace to (1) deploy RPAS in support of the 2012 Prescribed Fire Combustion and Atmospheric Dynamics Research (RxCADRE) project campaign objectives, including fire progression at multiple scales and (2) assess tactical deployment of multiple RPAS with manned flights in support of incident management. We report here on planning for the missions, including the logistics of integrating RPAS into a complex operations environment, specifications of the aircraft and their measurements, execution of the missions and considerations for future missions. Deployments of RPAS ranged both in time aloft and in size, from the Aeryon Scout quadcopter to the fixed-wing G2R and ScanEagle UAS. Real-time video feeds to incident command staff supported prescribed fire operations and a concept of operations (a planning exercise) was implemented and evaluated for fires in large and small burn blocks. RPAS measurements included visible and long-wave infrared (LWIR) imagery, black carbon, air temperature, relative humidity and three-dimensional wind speed and direction.

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    Zajkowski, Thomas J.; Dickinson, Matthew B.; Hiers, J. Kevin; Holley, William; Williams, Brett W.; Paxton, Alexander; Martinez, Otto; Walker, Gregory W. 2016. Evaluation and use of remotely piloted aircraft systems for operations and research - RxCADRE 2012. International Journal of Wildland Fire. 25: 114-128.


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    Aeryon Scout, black carbon, concept of operations (CONOPS), fixed-wing aircraft, G2R, remote sensing, rotor aircraft, ScanEagle, thermal imagery, three-dimensional wind, unmanned aircraft systems, vertical takeoff and landing

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