Stakeholders to discuss unmanned aircraft in the Arctic

Release Date: 
Monday, October 15, 2007

For Immediate Release

Whether it’s monitoring the migration of marine mammals in the Beaufort Sea, or mapping summer wildfires that flare up in Alaska’s Interior, opportunities abound for unmanned aircraft in the Arctic.

An ideal tool for many projects, unmanned aircraft systems can fly as long as 40 hours at a time, often in less than ideal conditions. Stakeholders from a variety of agencies, universities and associations will converge in Fairbanks Oct. 16-17, 2007 to discuss UAS technology, potential projects, and methods for collaboration at the Arctic Unmanned Aircraft Stakeholders Meeting at Pike’s Waterfront Lodge.

The meeting is co-hosted by the University of Alaska and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The meeting will provide a forum for stakeholders to identify common goals that may be addressed with emerging unmanned aircraft technology. Greg Walker, manager of the University of Alaska’s Unmanned Aircraft Program and Poker Flat Research Range, will open the meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 16 by outlining the variety of unmanned aircraft projects that have taken place in state, and those that are ongoing. In addition, NOAA will announce their plans to use unmanned aircraft for the next two to five years as part of their Arctic research efforts.

“We’re looking for commonalities among users, so we can maximize opportunities that exist for unmanned aircraft in Alaska,” Greg Walker said. “There are plenty of projects for this new technology.”

The University of Alaska purchased its own unmanned aircraft system, an Insitu Insight, in 2006. The aircraft is robotic and controlled by an operator through a computerized ground control system. The UAS weighs about 40 pounds and has a 10-foot wingspan. Most recently, it logged more than 18 hours of flight to map wildfire fuels growing in the Stewart Creek Impact Area. The campaign took place in late June 2007 for the U.S. Army Alaska Garrison, and was operated by staff from Poker Flat Research Range.

Participants must pre-register for the Arctic Unmanned Aircraft Stakeholders Meeting online at There is a $50 registration fee.



Greg Walker, manager of the University of Alaska’s Unmanned Aircraft Program/ Poker Flat Research Range, (907) 474-2102
Amy Hartley, Geophysical Institute information officer, (907) 474-5823,