MESA COUNTY, Colo. ( KKCO ) – The Mesa County Sheriff's Office now is one out of three law enforcement agencies in the nation to have a fixed-wing aircraft that is unmanned. The aerial vehicle is (UAV) is called the Falcon.
The new addition to the Sheriff’s Office is a big improvement over the Draganflyer X6 helicopter that the office currently has.
The Falcon can stay in-flight for about an hour, compared to the helicopter that flies for about ten minutes. The helicopter also uses more energy to run than the Falcon.
As one of the first customers the country, the Sheriff’s Office says it has an agreement with the maker allowing the office to purchase the equipment at a reduced price.
The camera on board is also special, they say, because of its color, and zooming capabilities.
According to the Sheriff's Office, If the plane is searching for someone who is covered by foliage, the camera can go infared, and look for the person's heat signature.
The plane will normally fly at an altitude of 400 ft. and will only fly in Mesa County.
Currently, the Sheriff's Office is only test-flying the aircraft, but should be ready for official use within the next couple of months.
The Sheriff’s Office says the plane will be a big help with rescues and with forest fires.
In Mesa County, there is an average of 70 rescue attempts a year.
Rescuers say having a birds' eye view is a big help and advantage for the rescue teams.