Fascinating images from above by FlyCapture Drone offer opportunities for emergency services

The FlyCapture Drone, gives live video feed of the search area.

The FlyCapture Drone, gives live video feed of the search area.

A new venture, based in Oranmore that uses a drone to take the most amazing images from the sky, is also using the technology to help out with local missing person searches. FlyCapture has volunteered its services to provide assistance to the newly established Oranmore Maree Coastal Search Unit (OMCSU ) which has been co-ordinating and running searches for missing people in recent weeks.

The FlyCapture DJI Inspire1 drone is an exceptional search tool and can operate in 35km winds – although unfortunately like most, it does not enjoy the rain. It covers terrain not safe for ground crew or indeed boats to search and can do so effortlessly. Not only that, given its bird’s-eye-view, the drone delivers a live video feed to the pilot that gives a much clearer view through water than when standing on the shoreline.

The founder of FlyCapture, Jonathan Kelly, is a qualified pilot so views from the sky are something to which he is no stranger. “I have always had an interest in flying. I flew model aeroplanes when I was a child and completed my flight training in the US. It is very expensive to become a commercial airline pilot, which is what I originally wanted to do so, so operating a remote controlled drone is like the next best thing. It can travel up to 2km, but to remain in compliance with Irish Aviation Authority regulations, we limit regular operations to 300 metres and below 400ft but that is plenty high enough to capture brilliant imagery.”

Mr Kelly explains how he began working with the local coastal search unit. “I live in Oranmore and during the search for missing student Michael Bugler at Christmas, it occurred to me that I had to help because I have access to areas that couldn’t be accessed by others, via the drone. It has a live video feed which can be hooked up to the television. I got the OK from the Gardai to take part and that is how the contact with the Oranmore Maree Coastal Search Unit was initiated. I have been using the drone to search the shoreline behind Oran Island housing estate.”

He believes drones could be of huge benefit to emergency services in future. “If finances allowed, they are definitely something which the Gardai could utilise more during missing person searches. I have heard the Fire Services have been using them for things like gorse fires so they can check out the areas on fire beforehand without putting lives in danger. To be honest, I have seen people out searching on dangerous terrain that would be much safer searched with a drone.”

The entrepreneur has been using the drone to capture creative and high quality photographs and video from up above. Some of FlyCapture’s images of Dunguaire Castle in Kinvara were shared on the Galway Advertiser Facebook page recently and got a phenomenal reaction. Mr Kelly believes it is the ideal solution for giving corporate social media pages a boost to entice followers and attract new customers. “Content is what drives social media and the next step for a lot of companies is getting top-class images from the air. A lot of what is on-line can be bad news so this is something new and fresh. I suppose property is the obvious one - I have been doing work for property developers and estate agents, but places like hotels, resorts, and golf clubs can really benefit also. Golfers find that getting a bird’s eye view of a course is a great way of getting some insight! Drone technology is brilliant for tourism, Ireland has such beautiful scenery and what better way to showcase it than from up above?”

The Oranmore Maree Coastal Search Unit will be carrying out fundraising events over the coming weeks for much needed equipment and training. All support would be very much appreciated.

You can find the unit on Facebook. Contact chairman Mike Cummins on 087 3964449, or e-mail oranmoremareecoastal [email protected].

For creative aerial content search for FlyCaptureIreland on Facebook, visit www.flycapture.ie or call Jonathan Kelly

on 086 8324900.

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