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Is my pilot safe? – Part 2 and 3

Here’ s Part 2 and 3 of Douglas Glover (Aviation Photographer) series on “Is my pilot safe?” It’s a great read regarding Airborne Sensor Operator CRM best practices and lessons learned, i.e., across all sectors manned/unmanned, commercial, public safety and defense. Is there anything you can add?

Is my pilot safe? - Part 2

Is my pilot Safe? - Part 3


ASOG Desk Editor

Image: Wikicommons (U.S. Navy Photographer's Mate 2nd Class Bradley Sapp)


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Education vs. Experience

OK, I'm about to open a can of worms. Education or Experience? Perhaps a bit of background on why this has percolated to the top of my things to complain about. While continuing on my ever widening job search for something Sensor Op related, I have perused many a job posting where there is a requirement for a post secondary education along with experience, and this has led me to ask why. 

Lets look at my own example. I have no post secondary education. There are no letters after my name, yet I have 30 years experience in Sensor Operation, mission planning, mission management, instruction, standards and aviation in general. When does one outstrip the other? When can one say that education is worth more than experience OR vice versa? Don't get me wrong theres lots of other things going against me getting suitable employment in a field that I have loved for the past three decades, most notably of which is that I have three extra decades worth of life under my belt, which in a lot of situations would enable me hors de combat in the job competitivness department. I understand that most employers want someone who can work for them quite possibly for an entire career and I dont qualify on that count, so the needs of a company who wants someone for the long haul means that their experience levels are much lower than "us of a certain age", therefore the shortfall has to be made up with education, right? Or does it?

While I begrudge no one a career as an ASO, as I loved it for every one of those 30 years, we have to look at the way a lot of businesses run these days. A lot of companies are looking to change the demographic of their workforce in the future. The emphasis has begun to move away from "career" workers and start shifting towards contract or term workers. What employers are looking for then is someone who can parachute in, grab a desk (or hammer, wrench, torch or workstation) and do the job with a minimum of fuss or training. As the labor market constricts, as I see it, older workers will have more say in choosing the kind of  jobs they do, when, and how they work.

This blog doesn't even cover that argument that us old guys are taking jobs away from the youngsters while we should be off enjoying our retirement. There's a whole 'nother discussion to be had  about that which I won't cover here. Suffice to say that people want to stay in the workforce for two major reasons. The mental engagement and the income. People are living longer, healthier lives, still want to contribute to society and don't want to outlive their money. Sixty is the new fifty and all that.......

So the kids have longevity on their side and us seasoned guys don't, which brings me back to my initial point of Education vs. Experience. What do we bring to the fight then? There's a lot to be said for age. While the young guy has the benefit of post secondary education which may or may not be in a related field, I have the added perk of being out there in the work force and have lived life. Sort of a "been there, done that" perk that the kids dont have in their pocket. Most of us also have the ability to use critical thinking, have strong decision making skills, a good work ethic and outside the box thinking skills. We also tend to be highly trained, self-managed, short on ego and willing to put in a full day’s work. Most of us are also ready and willing to work part time instead of full time.  Throw in efficient, organized, honest, punctual and dedicated and you give employers a lot of options. Put all this into a box and label it "life experience". 

Now I'm not saying that younger and more educated people than I arent all of what I described in the previous paragraph, in fact a lot of them have all of the attributed I described, which then brings me back to does the employer want education or does he want experience in a worker? 

It would seem from looking at job posts that companies are lookng for education, and that something I like to call "education creep" is rearing it head. Much like mission creep that all of us who have a military background lived and loathed, education creep is moving the goalposts ever farther to the side of requiring higher and higher education. I have noticed job posts that have a requirement of a baccalaureate degree and an "it would be nice" listing of a post graduate level degree like a masters.  It seems we are over-qualifying the needs that an ASO required to do their job.  Like I said I lived this in the military. When I was a youngster most day to day decisions could be made by a corporal or a lieutenant. those very same decisions now require a Sgt-Major or a full Colonel.

In other words, decisions made today take someone with more experience than education. Kinda seems like a circular argument doesn't it?

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Job Announcement: Sensor Operator (USA)

Outstanding…the networking side of ASOG is starting to kick-in. We just got another direct request from an ASOG connection to highlight a Sensor Operator job with Woolpert Inc in the USA. In a nut-shell, this position is primarily responsible for flight planning, sensor operation, data processing and reporting for airborne mapping missions. The chosen individual will be a core member of Woolpert’s field and R&D operations team and as such must be willing to travel, both domestically and internationally. Take a look at the job requirement and engage them directly.

Sensor Operator, Geospatial Technicians, SENSO02098

Cheers Mates!

ASOG Career Center (Patrick)

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Chief Airborne Sensor Operator

Airborne Technologies, a global aerospace system engineering, and geospatial services industry leader, is seeking a Chief Airborne Sensor Operator in Wiener Neustadt, Austria facility to be part of our highly successful flight crew and geo-data-acquisition team. The chosen candidate will have the chance to work for one of the fastest growing aerospace companies in Europe and with the latest remote sensing technology. The successful candidate will have the opportunity to train in a variety of skill-set areas, including GPS surveying, airborne trajectory processing and remote sensing utilizing aerial film, digital imaging, and LiDAR sensors and help lead a highly motivated group of aerial data acquisition professionals.

Job Description:

• Airborne Technologies is seeking a full-time “Chief Airborne Sensor Operator” for geo-data acquisition operations in the European region or abroad.
• Frequent travel and working on-board single and twin-engine aircraft.
• Additional duties include flight operations/crew management, training, project development engineering, sensor management/maintenance and data processing support.

Job Responsibilities:

• Flight and sensor planning
• Sensor Installation, testing & maintenance
• Flight & crew management
• Collection management
• Sensor Operations
• Quality Control (QC) of acquired data
• Processing, exploitation, and dissemination of acquired data
• Training & mentoring

Required Qualifications:

• EU Citizen or EU work permit.
• English (fluent); German (Basic).
• Technical education or background in the field of GIS or Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering or Computer Science.

Desired Qualifications:

• Higher education in Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering or Computer Science.
• 100 flight hours as an Aerial Survey, Mapping or Photography Aircrew Member/Airborne Sensor Operator.
• Experience in managing and conducting operations internationally.
• Valid flight medical exam certificate.

Desired Skills & Attributes:

• Subject-matter expertise
• Systems & sensors knowledge
• Aeronautical knowledge
• Analytical methodologies
• Critical-thinking skills
• Customer-service ethic
• Communication skills
• Information sharing and collaboration abilities
• Information handling and processing skills
• Computer and technical literacy
• Objectivity, integrity, and intellectual honesty

Additional Information:

• We provide training depending on your qualifications and experience.
• Your annual gross salary will be based on applicable collective agreement and your qualifications.

If you’re looking for a new challenge and taking on more responsibility in your career, Airborne Technology has a spot in our team for you. If you’re interested in this position, we look forward to your application stating your possible date of entry, photo and salary expectations. Please send your application to:


Airborne Technologies GmbH.
Z.H. Ms. Teresa Mancevski
Viktor Lang Street 8
2700 Wiener Neustadt

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We offer a permanent full-time position as camera operator at our base in Münster/Osnabrück airport in Germany. Weser Airborne Sensing GmbH is operating 4 aircrafts in Europe, and belongs to the AVT Group based in Imst, Austria. As an airborne sensor operator, you will be working with large format cameras of type Vexcel UltraCam on board our aircrafts and assist in the pre- and post-flight tasks on projects in all Europe.

Responsibilities: Aerial flight coordination, flight planning and management; - Acquire airborne data using optical cameras; - Work directly with the Pilot-in-Command (PIC) during all aspects of in-flight mission. - Ensure safe and secure use of company equipment and instrumentation; - Maintain and develop quality ensuring workflows for aerial survey tasks; - Data processing (image preparation, inertial data processing, trajectory calculation);

Education / qualification: A bachelor’s degree and 2 year experience (or technical/electrical background and 5 year experience) in GIS, Remote Sensing, Earth Sciences or related field; - Working knowledge of flight planning software, GIS, trajectory calculations; - Computer proficiency; - Interest in Photogrammetry, Cartography, Remote Sensing;

Experience: Experience in (airborne) data acquisition and data handling and multi-sensor platform integration will be an advantage; - Relevant international experience; - Language skills: English (fluent speaking and writing), German (basic).

Personal skills: Team working; - Flexibility to travel and work during early mornings, weekends and national holidays; - Strong analytical and data management skills; - Good communication and organizing.

We offer flexible working hours and will provide training depending on the qualification and experience. Please send your application to: Markus Boekhaus (

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2019 Trends

One thing I learned in my career (plus life) is to keep one-eye on what is trending. The article below is a good example of Geospatial trends. What trends do you see in your sector, e.g., EO/IR, SAR, LiDAR, Acoustics, Aerial Surveying, Airborne Law Enforcement, C4ISR, RPA, Manned Aircraft, Aerial Fire Fighting, Maritime Patrol, Training, etc.?

The Geospatial Trends of 2019  

Posted: Monday, January 14, 2019, | Author: Qassim Abdullah


ASOG Desk Editor (Patrick)

Image: Terabass, Wikimedia commons

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2019/2020 Aerial Survey Conferences

Some of you in the group might be interested in these conferences around the world, i.e., professional development. The focus of some of these academic conferences is on Aerial Surveying, and Aero photogrammetry + other sensors/problem sets. Look at the list below and see if something is interesting. For me, once my Gulfstream G-5 is out of phase MX, I’ll fly around the world and attend a few…especially the conferences in Bali ;)

Open Science Research Excellence - Aerial Surveys and Aero Photogrammetry

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How to speak ASO like a pro!

I remember as a new aircrew member being overwhelmed with all the unfamiliar things I had to learn. There were so many procedures and systems to keep track of, and people and departments to memorize! Every day I heard a new term, jargon or acronym and had to ask someone "O.K. what does that mean?" or try to figure it out from the context in which the unfamiliar term was used.

Here are 21 Terms, Jargon and Acronym links that relate to the 101 of our profession (Aviation and Remote-Sensing) and to specific ASO professional sectors (Commercial, Public Safety, and Defense) to help you speak like a professional ASO in your industry domain. There are many more, however, if you know of other sites that offer useful terms, jargon, and acronyms that other professionals can learn from, please share. Once the list is complete, I’ll post them in the “Link Library.”

Aviation: / Reference - Glossary

Wiktionary / Appendix: Glossary of Aviation, Aerospace and Aeronautics

CFG / Aviation Jargon: 45 Terms Aviation Enthusiasts Should Know

FPV Quadcopter Acronyms, Terminology, Glossary


Ideo Columbia Education / Remote Sensing Glossary

Canadian GIS and Geospatial Resources / Geomatics Acronyms and Abbreviations

Civil/Commercial – Aerial Photography:

Find Aerial Photography / Glossary

Digital Photography School / Photography Terminology: A Glossary of 71 Photographic Terms

B&H / A Glossary of Digital Photography Terms

Civil/Commercial – Aerial Surveying:

Wiki.GIS.Com / GIS Glossary

Remote Aerial Surveys / Glossary

Public Safety – Airborne Law Enforcement:

Wikipedia / Law Enforcement Jargon / Glossary

Public Safety – Aerial Search & Rescue:

Greater Philadelphia Search And Rescue / Search and Rescue Glossary and Acronyms

Fire Service Information / Basic Glossary Of Fire Fighting and Rescue Terms

Public Safety – Aerial Firefighting:

Fire Fighter Exam / Fire Service Acronyms and Terms

USDA Forest Service / Fire Terminology

Defense – Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance:

Military.Com / Military Terms and Jargon

Wiktionary / Appendix: Glossary of U.S. Navy slang

Wikipedia / RAF Slang

Defense – Electronic Warfare:

ATI / Glossary of Electronic Warfare Terms


ASOG Desk Editor (Patrick Ryan)

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At a ceremony held at the Royal Aeronautical Society’s headquarters, London on Monday evening, representatives from Smith Myers, Biggleswade and Leonardo Helicopter, Yeovil, were presented with the RAeS Team Silver Medal award for their teamwork developing the Redstreak Mobile Phone Detection and Location System.

Previous Silver Team Medallist include The Beagle 2 Mars Mission Engineering Team

A joint Smith Myers and Leonardo Helicopter team brought diverse skills from different domains to engineer an innovative and effective SAR capability.

The team’s vision was to enable a SAR helicopter to have the capability to locate and communicate with a person in distress possessing a standard mobile phone. This system had to work in areas of no cellular network coverage and effectively configure the mobile phone as a rescue beacon.

Leonardo Helicopters experience in airborne system design, development and evaluation together with Smith Myers’ expertise of advanced telecommunications design, produced Redstreak.

Redstreak demonstrated detection ranges of 32km with accuracies of better than 100m. Whilst locating the individual, Redstreak provides both voice and text communications.

Redstreak can locate individuals not detectable by other sensors and large search areas can be covered rapidly. The search is quicker, safer and more effective.

The Redstreak system is used on the AW101 Norwegian All Weather Search and Rescue Helicopter, possibly the most advanced SAR helicopter in the world.

The systems avionics certification covers both rotary and fixed wing aircraft.

Peter Myers managing director of Smith Myers said “Despite the distance between the two sites, the team quickly gelled and rapidly produced flying prototypes. The professionalism and expertise of both companies ensured a well-designed and thoroughly tested system. Redstreak/Artemis gives SAR crews an effective alternative where previously looking out the window was the only option”.

If You Want to Know More

Redstreak (also known as ARTEMIS) is a development of existing designs by Smith Myers, with new location estimation algorithms and redesigned hardware to meet the exacting international standards required by modern avionics on fixed and rotary wind aircraft (DO160G and MilStd 810G).

Smith Myers ARTEMIS has also received recognition from the following:
British Engineering Excellence Award 2017,
Critical Communications Award 2018,
ADS Security Innovation Award 2018.

Smith Myers are a UK SME (30 people) with a 30-year track record of innovative leading edge design, employing the latest radio techniques such as Software Defined Radio and Smart Linear Power Amplifier design. This, in addition to embedded protocol design on the latest Field Programmable Gate Arrays, permitted a radical and effective alternative to traditional direction-finding methods.

The ARTEMIS technology is also available in a smaller package for use on Search and Rescue drones. This system offers the same user interface, but at lower ranges of operation. Used in search scenarios including: coastal paths, cliffs, open sea, avalanche, poor visual conditions etc.

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Tradition Matters!

Traditions represent an important element of our Airborne Sensor Operator professional culture. They reinforce the structure and foundation of our skill-set and our vocation. Tradition reminds us that we are part of a history that defines our past, shapes who we are presently and who we are likely to become in the future. Once we disregard the meaning of our traditions, we’re in danger of damaging the underpinning of our professional identity. The backbone of why traditions matter to Airborne Sensor Operators is:

• Tradition reinforces values such as integrity, personal responsibility, a strong work ethic, and the value of being selfless.
• Tradition provides a medium to provide positive role models and highlight the standards that matter.
• Tradition validates the contribution the profession provides to society and unites members of the profession.
• Tradition contributes a sense of professional belonging. It brings individuals together and enables people to work together at a common level or perspective.

As ASOs, we must strive to utilize every opportunity available to us to reinforce the professional values and standards that we see are the core of our profession. The alternative is professional mediocre. As a famous writer once said,

“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.”
Marcus Garvey

What are your thoughts...Does tradition matter for our profession?

ASOG Desk Editor (Patrick)

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A Professional ASO knows More!

If you call yourself a professional ASO, are you able to identify what-is-what 70 to 80% of the time while collecting information real-time? Based on your industry sector (commercial, public safety or defense), can you identify, describe, and predict the actions of the primary objects in your view be it from an active or passive sensor?

An ASO is“Top-Gun” material if he or she can go beyond saying “I see something interesting” to “I see X and Y together and if this continues Z will happen,” i.e., real-time airborne Sherlock Holmes skills.

The reason I’m posting this blog is based on a note from a fellow ASOGer Grant Reid highlighting a skill-set area that defines an ASO. Here’s part of his message that got me thinking about this post. (Also, strip out the defense aspect of his message and replace it with your specific target sets, e.g., agricultural targets/surroundings, urban area structures/surroundings/human behavior patterns, etc. when you read his point):

“Note for ASO is ship, aircraft and weapon system recognition. I know my old boss will read this and agree that although your primary job is to be an integral part of the flight crew, you aren’t worth a hill of beans if you can’t pick out the differences between Russian and Chinese systems. I remember when going thru training in Comox, that my wife knew ships, aircraft and weapon systems just as well as I did (she ran the slide deck for the guys on my course at night - she was very unforgiving).

Modern non-military ASO deal with the same in that they must know every type of vehicle identifiable from the air.

The point is to know your job and do it to the best of your ability.”

I agree with Grant, there is more to the ASO job than just operating systems, checking-off the target deck and making sure that each mission lands safely. It consists of knowing your collection operating environment, i.e., in some ways being an airborne analyst. An ASO should develop a sense of knowing what is important, what ‘matters,’ and it comes from knowing your environment intimately.

What do you think?


ASOG Desk Editor (Patrick)

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Another ASOGer at EURONAVAL 2018

George Beaumont (L in the picture) wanted the group to know he’s at EURONAVAL this week. Go by and say Hi as a fellow ASOGer.

"DIADÈS MARINE is at EURONAVAL 2018 on the GICAN stand (E10/F17) introducing the industry to our advanced, high performance radar solutions. Feel free to come by the stand to talk detection, surveillance and radar or to see our latest airborne solution the C-RANGER-100 in action!"

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