The Aspen Times reports that the Mountain Rescue Aspen has a strict policy of not singling out members of the team, but it broke tradition recently to praise a rookie for playing a vital role in locating a lost hiker near Chapman Campground on June 27.
It was the first mission where MRA used a Matrice 210 drone fitted with an infrared camera and a second, powerful zoom camera. The drone was used at night to pinpoint where a woman was walking and to direct a ground team to her.
“We would have never found this woman,” said Doug Paley, a rescue leader.
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MRA received the call at 6:20 p.m. on a Wednesday that the hiker was overdue. She was last seen at 2 p.m.
Eighteen volunteers with MRA assembled at the site about 30 miles east of Basalt in the Fryingpan Valley and launched a search at 7:50 p.m.
“The one thing that challenges rescues is we never have enough information,” Paley said.
In this case, they were searching for the proverbial needle in a haystack. The area where they believed the woman to be was thickly wooded with braided streams and marshy areas. It was pitch black.
They launched the drone from Frying Pan Road at approximately 8:30 p.m., about the same time when some of the foot-pounders were directed to head back in and call off the search for the night.
Bill Murphy, chief pilot for MRA who was at the controls that night, methodically searched one area of terrain and moved on to another. He began searching a third area when he thought he spotted the woman walking, but they had to make sure it wasn’t a team member. Continue reading about how MRA invests in M210.