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New ASOG Author – Darrin Guilbeau

ASOG 2021 Focus Area: News & Information

Posted By: ASOG Desk Editor

ASOG members, it’s great to announce a new ASOG Author, Darrin Guilbeau. Darrin joined ASOG back in 2020 and has a solid background in our profession.

Speaking of that, Darrin wrote this months ASOG Article of the Month, i.e., “Does free ASO training and flying experience sound intriguing?” It’s a great article for those members trying to gain practical flight/mission (manned or unmanned aircraft) experience and not sure how to achieve it without breaking the bank.

To learn more about Darrin, jump over to the ASOG Authors page and check out his biography. If you want to network with Darrin, click the “Friend” button on his ASOG profile…this will allow you to e-mail Darrin on the ASOG e-mail webpage service.

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ASOG 2021 Focus Area: News & Information

Posted by: Patrick Ryan

ASOG members, if you’re in the European airborne public safety sector, I highly recommend this event for professional development and networking, i.e., the Police Aviation Conference (PAvCON) Europe.

I had the pleasure of attending this year’s PAvCON yesterday. However, due to the cancellation of a conventional face-to-face PAvCon Europe this year, Police Aviation Research teamed up with the Airborne Public Safety Association (APSA) to conduct a PAvCon branded virtual training/conference event.

Outside of filling my professional development bucket with informative information, I really enjoyed seeing fellow ASOGers leading the program and passing-on their experiences. I want to say thank you to these members who made PAvCON enjoyable & effective this year:

Bryn Elliott – PAvCON Managing Director/Organizer

Harald Brink – Along with Luc, presented “IR Airborne Tactics”

Luc Stremersch – Presented “IR Airborne Tactics”

Haiko Kroeze – Presented “UAV Tactics and Operations”

According to Bryn, next year’s event (Live – 2 days) will take place in Wiener Neustadt Austria at the Airborne Technologies facilities. Again, if you’re in the airborne public safety sector “or not” but want to compare with your aerial remote-sensing industry sector, PAvCON is a good event to attend. When the time comes, I’ll get the ASOG Desk Editor to post more information for PAvCON 2022 when Bryn is ready.

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ASOG Article of the Month: June 2021

ASOG Author: Darrin Guilbeau

If you didn’t know, there are many volunteer organizations around the world that leverage the talent and skills of Airborne Sensor Operators to support community & humanitarian efforts. One such organization is the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) in the United States. In this months ASOG Article of the month, Darrin highlights his volunteer experience with CAP and the world of a CAP Mission Observer (a.k.a. ASO). If you’re looking to gain actual flight and ASO experience while helping others, follow Darrin’s footsteps.


For those of you in the United States, we have access to a great opportunity to indulge in your love of aviation. If you want to break into the airborne mission systems operator career field or use your existing sensor operator skills to support your local community, investigate volunteering with the Civil Air Patrol (CAP).

History & Mission

I would like to share a brief history of my experience with the CAP and the opportunities and experiences it provided. I loved being around airplanes and served as a cadet when I was a teenager. As an adult, I wanted to be a pilot, but did not have the funds for training. Instead, I fulfilled my flying desires by joining CAP and began the training required to be part of an aircrew.

There are 3 primary missions of CAP: emergency services, aerospace education and youth leadership. In the emergency services realm, the most common mission is search and rescue, so you’ll be using your eyeballs as sensors. However, there are many other missions that utilize cameras or other sensors.

Mission Aircraft, Systems & Crews

A typical mission crew flies a Cessna 4-seat airplane and consists of a pilot, observer and a scanner. The pilot’s sole job is to fly the aircraft to and from the mission location. The observer is in the co-pilot seat and runs the mission radios, direction-finding equipment for ELT location and visual searches from the right side of the aircraft. The scanner is in the back seat and performs searches from the left side of the plane. The first position you’ll train for as part of an aircrew is to become a mission scanner.

From there, you can move to other specialties, such as Airborne Photographer, RPA operator or disaster reconnaissance. I’ve had the opportunity to operate FMV systems, learn about hyperspectral imaging systems, utilize Garmin VIRB and Nikon DSLRs, including missions mapping the Florida coastline during the Gulf oil spill. There are numerous other missions available around the country such as searching for forest fires, calibrating radar systems and providing aerial imagery to state and national agencies.

sUAS (unmanned systems) operations are growing rapidly and require both pilots and observers/technicians to operate the sensors and manipulate the data collected. You’ll learn how to process imagery and provide basic ortho-rectified products to a customer.

Professional Development for Good

CAP is the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force and relies on volunteers to perform all these missions. There are great opportunities to share your talents, as well as learn and grow, all while providing a needed service to your nation and fellow citizens. My experiences through CAP led me into a career as an airborne sensor operator and now a commercial pilot and still gives me an opportunity to serve.

Please see attached capabilities brief for more information or go to for more information.

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Police Aviation - What is it Like?

If you ever wanted to look behind the hanger doors of Police Aviation, this is an excellent one-hour webinar hosted by Helicopter Association International (HAI). The presenter is Lt Clay Lacey, a pilot (previously a Tactical Flight Officer, a.k.a., ASO) with the Texas Dept. of Public Safety. Clay does a great job of covering the details of his unit (which is similiar to many large public safety flight units around the world) and what the job consists of, i.e., missions, hiring procedures, type of sensors & systems they use, work conditions, and more….

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ASOG Article of the Month: May 2021

ASOG Author: Wayne Dahlke (Originally published 15 September 2017, ASOG)

If you’re a supervisor or owner of a business, it isn’t easy to know 100% that an applicant is a right fit for the job…especially in the flying business. Wayne gives an excellent example of his effort to vet new personnel before time and money are spent on their training.


Finding the right person to fill a position is always a challenge.  Will they fit in with the culture of your company or unit?  In the airborne sensing business, this can be an extremely tricky question, and it depends upon the position you are trying to fill.

If you need an operator to run a sensor in a low threat, low altitude, civilian aircraft in a non-combat area, then almost anyone with average technical skills, average common sense, and average ability will be able to do the work, unless they have some previously undiscovered motion sickness or fear of flying issue.  One could say, these types of missions are “low threat, routine” and any competent person can do them without much hassle, and only minimal training is required on how to run the systems.

However, if you are trying to find a person who can run a sensor (of any kind) in a combat zone and have direct contact with the “customer” on the ground, you MUST set up your criteria for what you want representing you and your company.  The individual you hire may be the hottest thing on two wheels during routine, day-in day-out, pattern of life style missions, but on “THAT DAY,” you need someone who can handle the pressure of doing it right the first time, every time.

When I was on active duty in the Air Force, we were not allowed to remove a student from training without cause.  With pressure from the headquarters to constantly turn out more and more operators (because we were always undermanned), we wanted to identify early which of our prospective students were most likely to need extra attention, or possibly would need more unusual training methods to get the instruction to “stick.”  Since these individuals would also be flying with us when we deployed, we had a vested interest in making sure they were the best we could make them.

We devised a “vetting” process we would use for our prospective students.  The student candidates had to accomplish the following, simultaneously, for an hour:

  • Play HALO (or any other storyline, first person shooter game) on medium and not die.
  • Monitor a second screen with CNN, FOX or some other national news outlet, with a news scroll bar across the bottom, and keep track of what was scrolling.
  • Listen to an audio book in their left ear, and be able to relate the major plot lines and characters of the story.
  • Listen to a music play list in their right ear, and keep track of which songs they had heard.

We did not expect (nor did we ever achieve) a perfect score.  But, what we did learn was that students who had the hand eye coordination, prioritization skills, and ability to train themselves to pay attention to what was important at that moment, had a much higher success rate than those who were natively unable to handle these tasks.

In the aircraft, it happens MUCH faster, and the consequences are simply life and death.

As instructors and trainers of military flyers, this was the most realistic vetting we could come up with that could approximate the average workload on a combat mission profile.

Our operators had to be able to track a moving target with a camera, and not lose PID, listen to the combat chatter of the ground team we were supporting, and make sure we were fully informed of what their locations, plans, and current actions were.  We also had to keep track of our aircraft position relative to our currently assigned airspace and altitude block, keep track of the pilots’ coordination with the airspace control authority, as well as any other supporting aircraft that were in the same piece of airspace with us.  We then had to be able to relay ALL this information to the ground force commander, so he or she was fully informed of the activities in their command area, in preparation for, or in direct support of, combat operations.

In the airborne sensor world, defining what you expect from your operators clearly and establishing an effective “vetting” process, and then training them to do the job properly will ensure a positive result. Having the right and well-trained crew member will help the individual, the crew, and the unit gets the job done right the first time, every time.

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OPENSIGHT – Analyst Console

OPENSIGHT-Analysis Console is the FlySight’s turnkey solution developed for the on-ground mission management. It exploits a Geographic Exploitation toolbox to provide the best real-time Processing Exploitation and Dissemination features for the Defense and Security market. It allows for adaptive information processing and distribution to support Command and Control operations.
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FlySight is an Italian/UK SME dedicated to the design and development of airborne remote sensing intelligence solutions. FlySight team is specialized in providing best in class software for mission planning, situational awareness and debriefing in time critical applications.

How do we work?

The proposed solutions are based on Artificial Intelligence approaches, exploiting the latest cognitive signal processing and adaptive data fusion algorithms.

Besides, FlySight adopts deep learning methodologies together with Augmented Reality technologies to provide its customers with disruptive ISTAR (Intelligence Surveillance Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance) systems.

Do you want to experience our solutions?

Read more about our flagship product OPENSIGHT here below and in the posts that will follow this.


OPENSIGHT – Mission Console



How can you raise your awareness of the geospatial situation on your tactical displays on-board?

FlySight meets this need with OPENSIGHT-Mission Console, its turnkey solution that exploits on-board equipment information in an Augmented Reality environment, thus enabling geospatial situational awareness on airborne Mission Console Computer.

It provides a new approach to Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance with its real-time mission analysis and dissemination in a Common Operating Picture.

This STANAG compliant Human Machine Interface can be integrated in legacy Command and Control infrastructure, thanks to the availability of an over IP communication link.


Look at the video & Learn more

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New ASOG Author – Jackson Beebe

As the ASOG acting Desk Editor, it brings a tear to my eye when a member volunteers to step up and share their experiences and thoughts regarding our profession, i.e., helping others professionally.

One such member, Jackson Beebe, just joined the ranks of ASOG Authors and started his postings with “ Machine Learning for LiDAR Classification.” I think you’ll find it informative, especially for those members in the Geospatial sector.

To learn more about Jackson, jump over to the ASOG Authors page and check out his biography. If you want to network with Jackson, click the “Friend” button on his ASOG profile…this will allow you to e-mail Jackson on the ASOG e-mail webpage service.



Acting ASOG Desk Editor (Patrick Ryan)

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Machine Learning for LiDAR Classification

ASOG Article of the Month: May 2021

ASOG AuthorJackson Beebe 

Hey everyone, my name is Jackson Beebe and I'm a former ASO turned desk-jockey working as a geospatial analyst in the Tampa area. Recently I've been working on some tools that will better automate the LiDAR classification process and wrote an article about it for another publication. I'm sharing here because I thought y'all would appreciate the read. I'd love to hear any thoughts or input!

    In the airborne LiDAR industry, after acquisition and calibration, roughly 30-40% of a project’s processing budget is dedicated towards the classification of points according to PM’s that I’ve spoken with. The derivative products that are then produced all depend on that point cloud being classified accurately. While there are programs in place that automate this process, those routines still require an analyst to manually comb through the dataset and verify the accuracy of the programs and manually make changes to the data as needed. With readily available machine learning algorithms, I think we can create a workflow that will completely and accurately classify LiDAR data automatically.

To improve the classification process, I’ve been experimenting with using various decision-tree algorithms to classify small datasets of both topographic and bathymetric lidar that were provided by NOAA and USGS. (between 1-5 tiles) So far, the results have been promising with classification accuracies hovering around 98 percent.  The decision trees that I’ve been using are predictive models that work by taking observations about data, (X, Y, Z, intensity, returns, scan angle) and then use those observations to gradually work towards a conclusion about the target variable (classification). In simpler terms, the machine learning algorithm is playing “21 questions” with the provided information to narrow down the target.

When tackling a project with AI, there are a host of methods and algorithms to pick from. Decision tree algorithms are preferable to other machine learning or deep learning algorithms for a few reasons, but mostly because they are not resource intensive. Many machine learning programs require powerful GPUs or proc servers, while decision trees are designed to work well with CPUs. For example, on a desktop CPU, these algorithms have been able to train in time frames ranging from 30 seconds to a few minutes per tile and classify individual tiles just as fast. Along with the speed, decision trees are explainable. We can look at each individual classification and see how and why the algorithm came to that conclusion.

The most promising aspect of my tests so far is that these algorithms are only using X, Y and Z values, intensity data, return number vs total number of returns and scan angle, rather than several datapoints that are already used by existing LiDAR classification programs. For example, a noise classification program could look at an individual point and determine if it is noise based on the number of neighboring points and the distance of those neighboring points. By including datapoints like the ones previously mentioned and increasing the number of relevant observations about the data, I think we will see the largest gains in accuracy and get closer towards having “hands-free” LiDAR classification.

While there is still plenty of research to be done, from the tests that I’ve seen so far, this seems like a viable solution to the manpower shortages that everyone faces and the timelines that we are always racing.


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ASOG 2021 Focus Area: News & Information

Shared by: ASOG Desk Editor

As many of you know, government organizations are not the only ones that conduct Aerial Surveillance operations. A highly equipped and skilled Aerial Work aviation sector specializes in supporting such public safety and defense activities. This article from our ASOG Corporate Supporter (AVBuyer Magazine) explores the commercial Aerial Surveillance sector and how it contributes to global security.

Link to ArticleAerial Surveillance: The ‘Eyes & Ears’ of Aviation

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Hansa Luftbild is looking for ASOP


Hansa Luftbild AG, an industry leading geospatial services and consulting company, is looking to hire a full-time Airborne Sensor Operator. Based out of Munster, Germany, we own and operate twin-engine aircraft equipped with highly advanced digital imaging and laser scanning systems. Since 1923 Hansa Luftbild specializes in the acquisition, processing, and extraction of geospatial data using these systems worldwide. FREELANCERS WELCOME!

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Experience in Vexcel-Imaging & RIEGL sensors is a plus
  • Experience in flight planning and GNSS/INS processing is a plus
  • Electrical, mechanical, computer or other technical skills
  • Experience working in and around aircraft
  • Low time pilot with aspirations of gaining commercial license

Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Responsible for the operation of advanced airborne based GNSS equipment
  • Learn and apply complex principles of aerial photography, LiDAR, airborne GNSS and inertial navigation systems
  • Quality assessment of acquired imagery/data
  • System installation, maintenance and troubleshooting (ability to lift 50 pounds)
  • Effectively work with the pilot in command to safely and efficiently complete assigned missions in aircraft
  • Assist in other office duties or Mobile Mapping as needed
  • This list of duties is subject to change and evolve with the flight department
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ASOG 2021 Focus Area: Industry Support

Posted By: ASOG Desk Editor

It's great to see the industry recognize the ASO profession and our group's efforts. We are incredibly happy to announce another new ASOG Corporate Supporter this week – JD2E Ltd.

JD2E is no stranger to ASOG; we have a good number of ASOG members associated with JD2E or have been a student of theirs. Also, we have the privilege of having the founder and Managing Director (+ ASO Instructor) of JD2E as a member…. Jonathan Bramley.

Just to let you know, JD2E is a company primarily focused on aircrew & ASO training. The core of their training effort is for Defense & Public Safety ASOs via classroom, virtual, and simulation instruction.

If you want to learn more about JD2E, check them out on the ASOG Corporate Supporter page by clicking their Logo…or "Friend" Jonathan, a.k.a. Swaz and send him a message via the ASOG e-mail service.

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Now, this is what ASOG is about, members helping members and the group reach for the stars. One of our members (Albert Dietz) is in the process of starting his own business by helping others find jobs.

Also, it's great that Albert, a.k.a. Al decided to have his new business become a proud supporter of ASOG, i.e., recognizes the importance of the ASO profession and the efforts of ASOG.

If you want to know more, here's a note from Al or just reach out to Al (don't forget to "Friend" before sending him a message via the ASOG e-mail service).

"After six years of research and networking, I am happy to announce that I am in the final stages of launching my own business. I have partnered with one of the largest and most respected Corporate Career site/Job Board providers on the market. The expected public launch date of the website is June 1st, 2021. is aimed exclusively at the ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) field. My goal is simple; to connect experienced ISR professionals and transitioning military members directly with ISR employers.

I've spent 13 of the last 15 years working in Afghanistan and Iraq and have helped dozens of military members and contractors find their next career opportunity. I'm very excited for the road ahead and being able to continue contributing to the ISR community.

If you are in the ISR field, whether job seeker, employer or US Government Agency, please check out ISRjobs on June 1st, 2021." Albert Dietz

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Sentient releases VMS-5 ViDAR pod

This week, Sentient Vision Systems has introduced the VMS-5 ViDAR pod which provides an affordable, quick install, all-in-one, maritime surveillance capability fit for a majority of fixed wing and rotary wing platforms.

With more options available in the near future it means maritime surveillance and search & rescue can be carried out by smaller, more economical aircraft.

The initial install has been on a Cessna 172 but more aircraft fitments are underway. There's a good video on the website here: ViDAR VMS PODS – Sentient (

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ASOG Article of the Month: April 2021

ASOG Author: Patrick Ryan (ASOG acting Desk Editor)

If you didn't know, the "ASOG Member Interview" pilot project focuses on ASOs and other professional aircrew professionals to highlight the unique work they do and share professional perspectives. I think one such outstanding ASOG member fits this category perfectly – Meshank Thathane. Meshank has over 20 years as an Aerial Mapping & Surveying ASO primarily operating in Africa. Plus, he has traveled the world and experienced what it takes to be a professional global ASO and aircrew member.



Are you currently active as an ASO, and what are you doing?

Yes, I am currently based in Libreville, Gabon, and working for a French-based company, Action Air Environment. We are primarily doing Oil Spill Surveillance and Response, covering the entire Gulf of Guinea. From time to time, we do get involved in Government Maritime surveillance and Search and Rescue missions.

Can you give me a run-down of your career?

I started working in Jan 2000 as a manifesting clerk and a freight delivery/collection guy for a courier services company in Johannesburg. Six months later, I found a job as an ASO at Aircraft Operating Company. The Aircraft Operating Company was the first private Aerial Survey and Mapping Company in South Africa after the industry was commercialized by the South African Defense Force, who did all the Aerial Surveys and mapping of the country before then. The Legendary Nols Harding trained me as a PIC of a Cessna 320 and I behind WILD RC10 152m Lens film aerial camera. Almost every time I walked out of that aircraft, I had a purple eye from being hit by the telescope during bumpy summer flights.

I worked for AOC from 2000 till 2009, and one of my highlights was transforming aerial photography capture to standards where we did not need to print check prints to calculate actual drift, side, and forward overlap anymore. I knew that a strip needed to be re-flown before film was processed. That's how good I got with analogue cameras. I then trained on the Zeiss RMK Top 15, which was an advanced version then.

A tragedy struck in late 2009 which led to me losing my job with AOC. I then pursued personal business interest and started my own company Motheo Geospatial Services until mid-2012 when I received a call from Fugro EMEA asking me to join them. I worked with Fugro, operating across Africa, Europe, Middle East, and Eastern Europe until 2015, when they discontinued data collection from their list of Geospatial services. I had logged more than 14000 Survey Flight hours at this time

After Fugro, I joined Geosense, a subsidiary of UK-based Getmapping Plc, I worked with them from 2016 till 2019 before joining Action Air Environment.

Why did you pursue a career in Aerial Mapping & Surveying?

I studied for a Business Management Diploma soon after High School. However, funds proved to be a challenge during my second year, and I could not complete my Diploma. This was 1999. Like any young person growing up in a spatially misplaced township in South Africa, I headed for Johannesburg in early 2000 and immediately found a job in a courier services company. I instantly enrolled to complete my Business Management Diploma with Nelson Mandela Bay University through distance learning.

Within six months in my job, I met Maxwell who was a soccer team coach at the sports-field one Saturday. During our conversation, he asked me if I would love a job as a camera operator. I have always loved photography and said yes, but little did I know that this meant I would actually fly to take photographs. I had never flown before by the way. I wouldn't really say it was a predetermined choice for me but rather what God chose for me, and I love every single second of it, despite the personal challenges it brings.


What do you like about being an ASO, and what are some of the negatives of being an ASO?

Being an ASO is not only about operating Airborne sensors. It's a whole mood. I enjoy the challenges of an honestly regulated working environment, and being an ASO offers all that. Apart from our technical skills in operating sensors, we also become technicians by default, to troubleshoot and resolve technical issues that comes along with Airborne sensors. This includes fixing hardware and software issues. We are also involved in the mission's general planning, the logistical part, client liaison on field and project management.

Imagine having a project in Nigeria. The dynamics are so vast, and everything changes on a daily basis. I have had to meet with tribal chiefs of an oil conflict region to negotiate a working relationship in order to get access to their land to lay and survey ground control points. You also are the face of the company on the field and have to conduct yourself as such. You have to adapt to the culture of doing things in the area of your operation. All these are incredibly challenging but fascinating, and that's what I love. My motto since I became an ASO is: "We make it happen." Teamwork between ASO and PIC is one of the most important key roles in this field.

The negative is that these airborne sensors are extremely sensitive and sometimes fail while you are airborne, this can become very costly, and you have to be sharp enough to know how long you can keep trying before you abort. Landing without that data is one of the most upsetting experiences as an ASO.

What kind of skills are required for one to thrive as an Aerial Mapping & Surveying ASO?

ASO is a technical job. It is a combination of technical skills such as electronics, electrical, and computers coupled with GIS to put one in an excellent position as an ASO. It would be a bonus and quite fulfilling if you could have the passion for travel and exploration as well.

Who is or was your mentor, and what key lessons did you learn from them?

Two individuals mentored me. Maxwell Ncwane and Nols Harding. Nols determined in one training fight that I was going to be a great ASO. This was June 2000. And the key lesson I took from him was human skills. Having to share a cockpit and more than half of your day with someone and especially of different cultural background can be challenging. He taught me never to discuss politics and religion with colleagues especially given the diversity of South Africa's culture and political history. This advice has helped me be able to relate with anyone I have ever come across all over the world in the 20 years of my career.

Maxwell taught me humility. He resembles the word. He also taught me never to be afraid to fail, always try new things, and explore. This is how we transformed aerial photographic capture in AOC before Flight Management Systems. I literally became an FMS during our missions back then with film cameras. Maxwell became the first African ASO in South Africa in 1995, also trained by Nols Harding.

What was one project/mission you worked on you found rewarding and fun?

There are just too many to count, really, and will all be in the book I am writing. However, two missions stand out.

The first was during the armed conflict in Syria around 2015. We were busy flying the whole of Turkey. We had three teams, three aircrafts. The other two teams refused to fly the area between Gaziantep and Aleppo for safety reasons. Because "We make it happen," Legendary Peter Ragg and I agreed to do the flights. In one of the flights, we literally witnessed the bombing right next to the border. The other time we spotted on our TCAS an unidentified flying object 1500FT above us, which happened to be a military drone monitoring the situation, told by ATC. Despite how frightening it was to operate in that region, Peter and I collected all the data and brought it home, and that was extremely rewarding.

The second incident happened, most recently 200nm south of Libreville, in which we took part in a search and rescue mission to locate a distressed French vessel (Marie Alexandra) and provide assistance using our onboard AIS and VHF Marine radio. Link attached. ( )

These are personally rewarding missions for me and fun in that the anxiety and the adrenalin rush that comes with it makes it worth it.

What was the most challenging or dangerous flight you ever accomplished?

The most dangerous flight was a failed survey flight in Lagos, Nigeria, in 2013. The PIC got really sick to an almost point of incapacitation. I had to take charge of the radios because he could not respond to ATC and was ready for controls if needed be despite not having trained as a pilot before. I requested a priority landing which was granted by ATC. As a result, we had a very hard landing but were able to walk out of it. Sadly, the pilot passed away later. May his soul rest in peace.

You've worked around the world as an ASO. What region was the most difficult, and what was the easiest to operate in?

I honestly enjoy challenges and working hard to overcome them. Most regions are straightforward to operate in if you plan properly and involve all parties affected. Cape Town, South Africa, has proven to be one of the most challenging areas to operate due to traffic. Despite having numerous meetings with the ATC management to develop solutions, CT is still the most difficult area to conduct aerial surveys. The amount of time and costs incurred from being sent offline due to traffic is crazy. I operated in the UK within some of the busiest airspaces globally, and it was a lot easier than Cape Town.

West Africa is also a challenge in that most locals do not speak a single word of English. My French is coming up but at a very slow pace…

Since Africa is your primary area of operations, what do you recommend to other ASO before operating in this region of the world?

I have trained a number of ASO’s and SurveyPilots and this is what I always tell them: Familiarize yourself with the region's politics, culture, constitutional and traditional laws, and respect the laws at all times. Avoid being adventurous; you will be arrested for taking a mere picture of your street to add it to google maps. Take all medical precautions and enjoy the African UBUNTU. (Ubuntu means humaneness and generous hospitality).


What do you see as the latest aerial surveying trends across Africa?

This is a very difficult question because from where I stand, there isn't enough being done. It is almost as if our governments do not know of aerial surveying services. Only a few African countries take advantage of geospatial technologies and services to boost their development, especially in terms of infrastructural development planning and construction, 3D city mapping, and property valuations. I have noted the disruption that drones are causing within the industry in South Africa, but the pace is a bit slow due to civil aviation regulations.

What do you recommend to the next generation of aerial remote-sensing ASOs to study?

Geographic Information System, Engineering and programing. I would like to see Drones, sensor systems, and supporting software built and written by ASO's.

You mentioned when you joined ASOG that you were writing a book. What is the book about, and is it published?

The book is more of a personal project. It is about my journey from humble beginnings in a rural township of Northwest, South Africa, to being one of the best ASO's in the world (That's what the President of Action Air says…all the time!) and having traveled and worked in more than 26 countries in the world. The book is also about my experience as a whole, as a son, brother, father, husband, and ASO.

The book is taking longer to complete because I am trying to get inputs from hundreds of people I have met worldwide; I am interested in their experience of me and the experiences we shared. I am hoping to complete the book by the end of this year.

Overall, what do you see yourself professionally doing in the future?

Covid 19 has changed my perception of what the future could be. I am going for my Drone Pilot's License this year.  I would like to own one of the best Aerial Survey companies in Africa. It is difficult to put a time frame to this objective due to changing circumstances, but this is the ultimate dream.

Before I end, Thanks to you Patrick especially for creating this platform. I hope that we can present ASO as a possible future subject that forms part of the curriculum in the mainstream educational training environment for learners who aspires to become ASO. My wish also is for stakeholders like Sensor Manufacturers such as Riegl and Vexcel to award ASO’s like myself and others with long term experience on operating their sensors with certification as proof of competence. We deserve it.


Meshank, Thank You! Thank you for the kind words and for taking the time to share your fascinating and positive background and thoughts with your fellow ASOGers. Plus, the Aerial Remote-Sensing community. Like with other ASOG members, it is a true pleasure to spend time learning about the experiences and perspectives of fellow professions like you. I always walk away professionally better.

If you have any questions for Meshank, you can message him via the ASOG e-mail message service. Don't forget; you have to "Friend" him first before e-mailing.

Also, If anyone has any questions regarding this interview or the "Interview of an ASOG Member" pilot-project, please contact me or send to

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Marcos Martinez from (EAASI) European Association of Aerial Surveying Industries reached-out to ASOG, i.e., to pass the world to Airborne Sensor Operators, to help them understand market needs, standardization, and future developments to create a more efficient, profitable, and sustainable Aerial Mapping industry.

As a community of professional ASO’s, here is an opportunity to have a say in the “Bigger Picture” of one of the industry sectors ASO’s make a living in. If you’re an Aerial Mapping & Surveying (especially in the manned aircraft arena) and you’re interested in participating in EAASI’s survey, please check out the links below for additional information & instructions.

Capturing the Challenges and Chances of Aerial Mapping


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