Our organization is equipped with three high-spec drones featuring advanced video and thermal imaging technology, enabling us to conduct rapid and comprehensive searches and surveys over expansive areas. The incorporation of thermal imaging cameras empowers us to locate missing persons during nighttime operations and in challenging, inaccessible terrain. Once a missing person is pinpointed, their precise coordinates can be transmitted to our Foot search teams, expediting their retrieval. Moreover, our drones are equipped with a powerful 26w spotlight, which can illuminate search areas and provide invaluable support to our ground teams.

The Drone Team comprises two essential operatives: a pilot and a spotter.

Pilot Responsibilities:

  • The pilot assumes the primary role of ensuring the safe operation of the drone, including navigation to and over the designated search area.
  • They closely monitor critical in-flight parameters such as battery level, distance, and altitude.
  • Simultaneously, the pilot vigilantly watches the thermal and video feed, actively searching for the missing person.
  • Our pilots are required to hold qualifications as commercial drone pilots, as mandated by the A2 CofC (or a similar approved qualification), which is recognized by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and permits the operation of drones in the Open Category.

Spotter Responsibilities:

  • The spotter plays a pivotal role in maintaining visual line-of-sight to the drone at all times.
  • They ensure that members of the public remain at a safe distance from the drone, prevent collisions with obstacles such as trees, buildings, and pylons, and monitor the presence of other air traffic in the vicinity.
  • Additionally, the spotter maintains continuous radio contact with our control center, reporting the commencement and conclusion of each search flight and any significant discoveries made during the operation.

This two-person drone operation parallels the safety protocols observed in two-pilot setups for commercial aircraft. Consequently, we conduct a meticulous preflight checklist before every operation to ensure all systems are functioning correctly and all safety measures are in place. Furthermore, we consistently seek clearance from relevant authorities or landowners whenever necessary or appropriate to uphold safety and compliance standards.

BLSAR thermal imaging drone and pilot

Drone and Pilot

BLSAR Drone Pilot

Drone Pilot

The Drone...

Our Drones are GPS enabled and are able to sense their location, distance from the pilot and its altitude, it has a flight time of around 24-30 minutes per battery, and has a maximum speed of 44mph. It has inbuilt collision avoidance and will automatically return to home (take off point) and land when it senses its battery is low. Due to its GPS capabilities it can only fly in unrestricted airspace, and will therefore not operate in and around civilian / commercial airports or other security restricted areas, which are protected by a Geofence system, pre-programmed into every Drone, where it simply will not 'take-off' close to, or fly over.

As we rely on the drone as our eyes in the sky, the feed from the gimbal stabilised camera array gives us thermal imaging capabilities, as well as hi-res video and still photography options. It can zoom to 16x in thermal imaging mode, and 32x in video / photo mode. These images can also be live streamed to our Incident Control Unit (ICU) allowing the operations team to see exactly what we see, no matter of their location.

At least one drone is carried to each incident, allowing us to deploy the drone within minutes if needed. The thermal imaging capabilities are particularly useful at night sensing the heat signature of a person on the ground.

BLSAR Search drone thermal imaging

Drone Thermal Imaging View


Drone Standard Camera View

Charities Aid Foundation

You can help...

Although all our members are volunteers, whom in turn meet their own fuel and equipment costs, we have many ongoing costs to equip house and run our operation. Including fuel for our vehicles, rent and replacement equipment and supplies, just to name a few. We receive NO statutory funding; we rely solely on charitable donations and fundraising. Please consider making a donation so that we may continue to save lives in Berkshire
Toutley Depot, Forest Road, Wokingham, 
Berkshire, RG40 5QP
Phone: 0300 321 0384
BLSAR is a member team of Lowland Rescue
BLSAR is a UK registered charity no. 1202260