Planes without pilots Science for Alaska lecture to focus on unmanned aircraft in Alaska

Release Date: 
Thursday, January 22, 2009

For Immediate Release

FAIRBANKS, Alaska—The University of Alaska purchased its unmanned aircraft in 2006 and the 40-pound robotic plane can fly up to 20 hours at a time, collecting data even through the harshest conditions. These superlatives make the Insitu A-20 an ideal tool for scientists that need information from areas that are often difficult or dangerous to get to.

The lecture, "Planes Without Pilots: Using Unmanned Aircraft for Research," is the second installment in the 2009 Science for Alaska Lecture Series in Fairbanks. Greg Walker, manager of the University of Alaska’s Unmanned Aircraft Program, will present the lecture at 7 p.m. on Jan. 27 in the Westmark Gold Room. Walker will explain how unmanned aircraft can solve scientific needs specific to Alaska, such as tracking wildfires, surveying wildlife and monitoring climate change.

The UA unmanned aircraft is housed at Poker Flat Research Range. The aircraft enhances range activity during the summer with wildfire and resource mapping. These activities are much different than the launching of scientific sounding rockets during the winter for which the range is known.

The Science for Alaska Lecture Series is a six-part series in Fairbanks that covers a broad range of science topics that are specific to our state. Aeronomy, biology, psychology and more will be included in the series in 2009 that will run every Tuesday evening through Feb. 24 at the Westmark Gold Room. Science for Alaska is free to the public, and all ages are welcome.

Preceding each lecture in Fairbanks, there will be educational demonstrations and activities for kids beginning at 6:30 p.m. These activities are free.

In Fairbanks, the Geophysical Institute coordinates the Science for Alaska Lecture Series. The GI, the University of Alaska Fairbanks and Alyeska Pipeline Service Company sponsor the series. The event is one of the largest public outreach ventures of the GI each year, and has become a winter tradition since it began more than 15 years ago.


Unmanned Aircraft Program Manager Greg Walker: 907-455-2102,
Geophysical Institute Information Officer Amy Hartley: 907-474-5823,