Poker Flat Research Range supports Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Operations

Release Date: 
Tuesday, July 13, 2004

For Immediate Release

Staff from Poker Flat Research Range helped secure crucial imagery of wildfires raging through Alaska, including those in their own backyard.

Altair, an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) equipped with extensive imaging capabilities, provided real-time information on fire locations, fire movement, and previously unidentified hot spots on a mission flown July 9. Poker Flat Research Range staff initiated this effort and provided airspace planning and mission support for the flight.

The latest images of the Boundary Fire are assisting fire personnel as they tackle flames near Poker Flat Research Range, located 30 miles north of Fairbanks on the Steese Highway. The Boundary Fire charred portions of the 5,132-acre range late last month in three separate waves of fire, causing minor damage.

Range staff were prepared to support Altair before it even flew to Alaska. The original plan for the UAV was to monitor fishing activities in the Bering Sea and the North Pacific Ocean this summer. Range personnel have helped the United States Coast Guard prepare for and coordinate these missions.

Poker Flat Research Range, New Mexico State University, and the University of Hawaii have entered into a four-year contract, sponsored by the United States Air Force, to develop and coordinate future UAV operations within Alaska, Hawaii, and the western United States that focus on civil or scientific applications.

The Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks owns and operates Poker Flat Research Range. It is the only non-federal, university-owned range in the world. To date, more than 1,800 meteorological rockets and about 300 major high-altitude sounding rocket experiments have been launched from the range.


Greg Walker, Poker Flat Research Range Manager: (907) 455-2102.
Kathe Rich, Poker Flat Research Range Operations Controller: (907) 455-2103.