Jeff Hodder is showing the cadets what the Drone is seeing from the air as everyone takes turns looking at the small screen. Photo courtesy Captain Lori Lee Bott.

Air cadets take in drone demonstration, learn orienteering skills

Local air cadets recently spent an afternoon at Idlewild Park learning about orienteering and how organizations such as the Civil Air Search and Rescue Association (CASARA) utilizes drones for search and rescue operations.

On Saturday, Oct. 15th, the 552 Key City Air Cadets, along with commanding officer Captain Lori-Lee Bott, participated in a drone demonstration using and advanced commercial unit that was recently acquired by Cranbrook Air SAR.

Allister Pedersen, Assistant Southeast BC Training Officer as well as Drone Team Lead introduced the members of the newly-formed drone team, which included Drone Pilot Jeff Hodder and Visual Observer Doug Fanning.

Hodder holds a Transport Canada Advanced Drone Operator Certificate and flies his own Cessna 172 fixed wing aircraft with Air SAR, while Fanning is a Spotter with Cranbrook Air SAR (known as PEP Air in BC and CASARA nationally), and also flies his own personal drone identical to the one shown to the Cadets.

The Drone Team took advantage of the invitation from Key City Air Cadets to outline and demonstrate drone capabilities for conducting searches in challenging terrain such as canyons and other rugged terrain.

Once the new Drone Team finishes some intensive training, it will undergo provincial certification before outlining it’s capabilities to Ground SAR groups in southeast B.C.

The drone demonstration was definitely a highlight of the afternoon, as drones are increasingly being used to improve search and rescue capabilities across the world.

Over 25 per cent of the cadets in attendance (including a parent) own a drone. Additionally, Cranbrook Air SAR looks to the Cadets as the next generation of Air SAR members.

Along with the drone demonstration, cadets also participated in an orienteering exercise.

Orienteering is a competitive sport in which participants find their way to various checkpoints across the country with the aid of a special map and compass, in the quickest time. The compass assists you to keep your map oriented to your surroundings and it is up to you to choose the easier route, which may take more time or take the direct route which may be more challenging but a lot faster.

Cadet teams completed this introductory course of 2.4 km in 23 – 50 minutes.