Alaska Gov. Requests Drone for Fire Overflights

July 23, 2004

Alaska Gov. Frank Murkowski has sent a letter to the U.S. Coast Guard, asking them to assign one of the agency’s aerial drones on a minimum two-day mission to collect information on the Boundary Fire in Alaska’s Interior.

“It is essential that we utilize all available resources to fight these fires,” said the Governor, in requesting the Coast Guard task its NASA Altir UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) to the wildfire. “These fires are threatening structures and harming businesses and I will do everything in my power to address the situation.”

In his letter to Capt. Thomas King of the Coast Guard’s Office of Aviation Forces in Washington D.C., the Governor noted that deployment of the UAV would provide immediate information and that the additional test work could lead to employing the UAV technology in future fire-fighting efforts.

“I understand that you have plans to move the UAV and its support structure out of Alaska in the near future,” he wrote. “I request that this action be immediately postponed until we have the opportunity to utilize the technology over a disastrous wildland fire that is currently threatening numerous residences and businesses in the Fairbanks vicinity.”

The Governor requested that the UAV be stationed over the Boundary Fire for a minimum of two day’s operational period. A Coast Guard UAV was deployed to the Interior fires twice so far in this year’s fire season.

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