Avion Solutions’ Unmanned Aircraft Team Saves Life of a Lost Boy
Huntsville, AL (March 18, 2019) – Avion Unmanned, the UAS Division of Avion Solutions, Inc. collaborated with authorities in Giles County, Tennessee to save the life of a missing child.
Michael Winchester, the Maintenance Chief for Avion Unmanned, and Taylor Abington, Senior UAS Program Manager, were called to aid the search for a missing child. Timing was key. The teenager was a 15-year old developmentally challenged diabetic child, with only a small amount of medicine and missing for hours. Once Michael and Taylor arrived on the scene, they quickly established communication with the local search and rescue crew, including Giles County Sherriff’s Office, Ardmore Police, and numerous other volunteers to include the Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) aviation unit, and laid out their plan to support the authorities in the search for the teenager.
The Avion Unmanned team used a Z30 zoom camera and FLIR XT thermal camera mounted on a Matrice M210 to concentrate on the area near the teenager’s home and ultimately following the path of his morning school bus route. Michael and Taylor worked through the day and into the night. With the weather growing colder by the hour, they switched to the single mounted FLIR XT as it increased flight time, they also installed an anti-collision light to improve visual line of sight (VLOS) and to meet the requirements of Avion Unmanned’s FAA waiver to operate UAS at night. This also allowed the THP’s helicopter to maintain visual contact with Avion Unmanned’s UAs operating in the same vicinity at a deconflicted altitude.
Keeping an even head and using the mantra “follow the procedures,” Michael and Taylor were able to maintain coordination with authorities and fly efficient routes to survey the area. As operations continued into the night, volunteers broke off to reset, the THP helicopter departed in order to refuel, and law enforcement called a meeting to regroup and centralize information gathered during search operations. During this time, Avion Unmanned’s team continued to push through, relocating four times along the I-65 corridor between exit 1 (Ardmore) and exit 6 (Elkton).
It took 10 flights and approximately 3.4 flight hours, not to mention frequent collaboration with authorities, but amazingly at approximately 9:30pm, Michael and Taylor found the missing teenager about 4 miles from his home alive. Without their efforts, it’s impossible to know if or when the child would have been found and what condition he would have been in.
Avion Solutions is extremely proud to have team members like Michael Winchester and Taylor Abington, who were able to respond quickly and effectively to make a difference in our communities.
About Avion Solutions
Avion Solutions, Inc. is an employee-owned innovative engineering and logistics solutions provider for complex military-grade projects. Headquartered in Huntsville, Alabama with a presence in multiple states across the U.S., Avion Solutions has provided solutions to Department of Defense customers and commercial clients since 1992. Our broad range of technical expertise includes engineering, logistics and technical services, data analysis, software development, small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) and drone services, and development of a full spectrum of training solutions ranging from on-site classroom training to interactive multimedia instruction (IMI) programs. Avion Solutions is a 2019 Best Places to Work® award winner. To learn more, visit www.avionsolutions.com.