47th Security Forces Squadron premiering hoverfly drone at upcoming airshow

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Keira Rossman
  • 47th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

The 47th Security Forces Squadron (SFS) enhanced its security capabilities by integrating a Hoverfly surveillance drone, set to be showcased at the Fiesta of Flight Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) expo on March 8 and 9, 2024. 

The Hoverfly is a tethered drone and small un-manned aircraft (SUAS) operated by the SFS to assist in perimeter security and everyday operations. The drone offers wide area viewing capabilities to Security Forces members.   

“It is no secret; unmanned aerial systems are at the forefront of the next warfighting domain,” said Maj. Robert Stone, 47th Security Forces Squadron commander. “I hope that by showcasing our capacity to adapt and apply unmanned technological solutions towards defense will inspire and recruit the talent required to continually innovate and operate amazing technology in the World's Greatest Air Force.” 

The tether allows the drone to be operated for extended periods of time, whether plugged into a generator or a wall outlet, it can run indefinitely. 

A truck equipped with a compact generator can launch a drone while conducting a patrol. This drone can then move to a strategic location, offering support to security personnel on patrol by relaying important information. 

“Hoverfly can reach altitudes up to 200 ft above ground level enabling us to view not only long distance, but a wide breadth, giving us a large scope of viewability from a single point instead of us having to move and manipulate through brush and the unforgiving Texas terrain without a specific direction,” said Tech. Sgt. Christina Mallard, 47th SFS NCOIC of plans and programs. “Meaning if someone is hiding, we can deploy the drone, and use the information we gather with it to narrow down our patrols search areas expediting their response and quickly locating persons or vehicles.” 

Another feature of the drone is its thermal detection capability. This allows members the ability to detect people in hours of darkness or limited visibility by generating and displaying a heat signature where personnel are located. 

“The IR or infrared capabilities allow us to detect heat signatures even in pitch black conditions,” said Mallard. “It enables us to locate a person or an object such as a vehicle due to the contrast of heat from the surrounding areas. The other feature is its ability to zoom great distances with an amazing amount of clarity and detail without having to relocate the Hoverfly system.” 

The Fiesta of Flight STEAM expo presents an opportunity to see the Hoverfly in person, and represents a holistic approach to education and innovation. This approach fosters an environment of innovative problem-solving. 

“I see the Fiesta of Flight STEAM expo as a great opportunity to display one of our newest technologies,” said Mallard. “...and to showcase the reason that we have these capabilities is all because a team of engineers in the early 1980s actually had the idea to develop an unmanned aerial vehicle, or UAV, that they named the Albatross. Meaning that every technology that we have is because somebody somewhere had an idea and took the initiative to try and try again even throughout their failures until they got it right.” 

As the 47th SFS prepares to showcase this innovative SUAS at the Fiesta of Flight STEAM expo, it's clear that the Hoverfly is not just a tool for security, but also an opportunity to connect with the local community and inspire future generations.