Eye in the Sky Over Balmoral Show

Aerostat flying over Balmoral Show Car Park

The SkyWatch A300 Aerostat flying over the Balmoral Show Car Park

Firmly tethered, the SkyWatch A300 Aerostat floated happily in the blue skies over Balmoral Show 2014 while tens of thousands of visitors enjoyed three days of agricultural displays and shopping.

Combined with over-flights by SkyWatch pilots in the Foxbat fixed wing aircraft, the aerostat, donated by local company Search Systems, provided a live feed of traffic updates around the site, making it easier for organisers and ground staff to manage queues, blockages and gates. Feeding video directly back to the control room or at longer range to ground crew with a radio relay, the aerial feedback trial proved both successful for the Balmoral Show and SkyWatch NI.

With flights covering a wide area in the morning during rush hour and the aerostat providing local imagery of the car parking and inroads, SkyWatch was able to provide invaluable feedback throughout the three day show.

Aerostat flying in the evening over Balmoral Show

Flying in the evening as families made their way home.

The balloon also proved popular with families and children, attracting a lot of attention and debate regarding it’s purpose. Most discussion centred around having a camera or being a weather balloon.

Other ideas put forward were having someone inside the balloon, which would be a lot of fun, but a balloon of this size (3.6 cubic metres) is only capable of lifting 1.5kgs.

An unexpected but very welcome use for the balloon also arose on the last day when people were finding it difficult to locate their cars. By photographing the car park and zooming into the images we could locate the occasional, distinctly coloured vehicle. Ultimately that job still remained most effective with the folks from EventSec on the ground who provided site security and parking management.

Come and See us at the Balmoral Show

SkyWatch will be providing aerial imagery to the Balmoral Show for 2014, assisting with traffic management and missing people.

Search Systems A300 Aerostat

Search Systems A300 Aerostat

Using a combination of fixed wing flights by our pilots and the continuous deployment of the new A300 Aerostat, kindly donated by Search Systems, we will be providing live aerial images throughout the show. With a secure, streaming live feed of video or thermal imagery, the organisers and assisting agencies will be able to maintain a permanent overview of the show grounds and surrounding access. The SkyWatch tent will also be there so come along and find out how you can join us to take part in future operations and assist with fund raising.

For more details and to book your tickets, go to http://www.balmoralshow.co.uk/

A Great Reception at Moira Methodist Church

Moira Methodist ChurchWe would like to thank the members of Moira Methodist Church and their friends for a very generous collection and warm reception on an icy Saturday morning.

We were treated to a great breakfast followed by a cheque presentation with over 50 gentlemen attending the men’s breakfast. Paul Trimble then provided an insight into the work of Sky Watch in Northern Ireland before a short demonstration of our tracked vehicle and an opportunity to view the quad-copter and one of our drones with accompanying mobile ground station.

You can find out more about the work of Moira Methodist Church on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/moira.methodist


Children’s Colouring Competition

Colouring in competitionDid you pick up a colouring competition leaflet at the Portrush Airshow or another event we recently attended?

Send us your entries and you could win a SkyWatch Goodie Bag (large glider, pen and keyring)!

Entries are just £1 each. All proceeds go to Sky Watch Civil Air Patrol (NI) to assist with local searches.

Don’t forget to send your entries in by the 20th September!

Download your entry form and full details here: Childrens_Competition_2013

Flying High at the Ulster Aviation Open Day

Ulster Aviation Open DayThanks to everyone at the Ulster Aviation Society for their kind donation of stand space for their 2013 Open Day. It was a huge success for both the society and SkyWatch.

Our own Paul Trimble was marshalling the helicopters visiting on the day and putting on a fly past which was great to see.

We also took the opportunity to test fly our custom built remote camera system on board the helium balloon. Visitors could see themselves on the ground from around 60ft in the air.

When fully deployed the balloon can reach 200ft and with a new camera will give us a detailed zoom and infrared capability, perfect for night searches and a fast view over a wide area, a valuable asset in rural and urban areas.

The camera will cost around £6000 so every donation and sale on the stand brings us a step closer to that goal.

We were also joined by some new volunteers, including Tom from Switzerland, who is studying Aeronautical Engineering at Queens University.

More volunteers also signed up to give us a hand next week at the Portrush Air Show. We have plenty more space for more volunteers if you would like to help out on Saturday or Sunday so please get in touch if you have an hour or two to spare.

Helium Balloon to be deployed in hunt for missing Omagh woman

Helium Balloon cameraA new search device is to be deployed on Saturday 20th July in the hunt for a woman near Omagh who has been missing for over a week now.

We will be launching the helium based unit in Drumquin near Omagh in an effort to assist the PSNI search.

This will be our first live deployment of the Helium balloon and adds to the range of airborne search equipment we now deploy.

House Fire in Tandragee Spotted from the Air

House fire spotted in Tandragee

House fire spotted in Tandragee

One of our sharp eyed pilots, Peter, spotted a house fire in Tandragee last week while on a training flight.

He quickly relayed the message to the ground where they called 999 and the fire brigade responded to put out the fire.

On a second flight later in the day, he took this aerial photo.

Minister Meets with Sky Watch Civil Air Patrol

The Minister of State for Northern Ireland, Mike Penning MP, joined members of the Northern Ireland Civil Air Patrol at their base to discuss the organisation and the support they offer to the community.

After viewing one of the aircraft, the Minister was provided with a briefing by the Chairman of Sky Watch UK, Tony Cowan, and Unit Director and Deputy Chief Pilot of Sky Watch NI, Paul Trimble. After the Chairman provided an overview of the organisation, Paul Trimble provided more detail on the service and technology used in Northern Ireland, including unmanned aerial vehicles (drones).

The Minister was very enthusiastic about the use of voluntary sector in support of the
emergency services and expressed particular interest in the work of Civil Air Patrol during the recent severe weather. After his briefing the Minister said “I greatly admire the work of the voluntary sector in support of the local community and the emergency services.”

It soon became evident that the Minister could see opportunities for a voluntary sector organisation such as Sky Watch Civil Air Patrol to support PSNI when searching for missing persons and in response to severe weather events. For the Fire and Rescue Service of Northern Ireland, the use of drones is particularly important when dealing with hazardous materials, wildfires and flooding.