Flying with the Big Boys at SAV

Last month, my team and I headed from Dayton, Ohio, down to Savannah, Ga., to fly our UAS at the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport (SAV).

Now, this is kind of a big deal.

With F-35 fighter jets landing right beside us, our test UAS flights were some of the first to occur at a fully operational Class C (Charlie) airport.

We went to SAV to prototype data collection for airport management, maintenance crews and field operations staff under an FAA-granted authorization to fly UAS, or drones, in Class C airspace.

Although we focused on wildlife management, asset management and property surveillance, we found ourselves caught up in the airport’s enthusiasm for integrating UAS into daily operations.

Flying drones at airports does pose some inherent risks, but the poor flying of some irresponsible, non-commercial pilots has generated an unfortunate stigma—and made many airports reluctant to explore the advantages of UAS.

The folks at Savannah, on the other hand, welcomed our UAS flight team with overwhelming support. The airport staff—including air traffic control—trusted our in-depth safety approach, and they were eager to see all that our UAS could do for them.

The SAV staff didn’t just welcome Woolpert’s UAS technology, they embraced it. They loved seeing the live UAS feed, and their presence and participation really enhanced their ability to brainstorm concepts for additional implementations across the airport.

We’re all very excited to help SAV implement this groundbreaking (or should I say flight-taking) technology throughout the airport. Next up—new collaborations with the FAA and select airports on similar unmanned implementations.


Ethan Schreuder

Woolpert’s newest unmanned aircraft system (UAS) guru, Ethan Schreuder is an experienced survey technician with a strong GIS background. He is a licensed UAS pilot with over 13 years of experience operating radio-controlled vehicles. Ethan has worked on nearly 50 aviation projects for Woolpert, including using UAS to map a runway extension project. He’s also been spotted manning the controls of a flying-pumpkin-trajectory-measuring drone.


You might also be interested in: