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airborne sensor operator (20)

“Sensor-1 to Pilot, How Copy Over!!!”

OK…let’s be honest…how many ASO’s (non-rated-pilots) have wondered what would happen if their fellow crewmember the pilot “all of a sudden” was incapacitated...I would say many. Here’s one program that was developed over 35 years ago by AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association) called the “Pinch-Hitter” course to help with this situation. According to AOPA, the course is:

“Designed to help non-pilot flying companions learn how to safely land an aircraft in the unlikely event of pilot incapacitation. It includes an introduction to the principles of flight, a basic overview of instruments and radio communications, and a scenario-based training guide.

Participants are encouraged to first take the free Pinch Hitter™ online course from the AOPA Air Safety Institute (ASI), and then use this training syllabus to further guide instruction. ASI recommends using a certificated flight instructor (CFI) or an experienced, proficient pilot for the ground and flight instruction portions of the syllabus.
While pilot incapacitation is extremely rare in general aviation (GA), completing this syllabus will help non-pilots be more knowledgeable and better prepared in the event of an actual emergency— they may even decide to pursue additional flight training.”


Besides the primary purpose of this course, I think it’s also a great program for any small and medium size aerial work firm that uses or participate with part-time (non-rated-pilot) Sensor Operators or Secondary ASO Professionals (Photographers, Non-TFO police officers, Research Scientist, etc.) to improve the level of airmanship of each crewmember. The course is not time consuming or expensive compared to other safety or flight orientation training programs, but it’s methodical, economical and effective for small operations and freelance professionals.

Bottomline and just my two-cents, if I were an Aerial Work Business Owner, Aerial Work Pilot or a new ASO or Secondary ASO professional, I would encourage this program for all my crewmembers and fellow ASOs. If you know of other programs like this, let the group know.

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Benjamin Franklin

ASOG Desk Editor (Patrick)

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Are you ready to fly? Are you and your fellow crewmembers fit to fly? Is everyone on the crew current on their training? What is the status of your aircraft and mission systems? How is the weather? Etc.

If you’re a new Airborne Sensor Operator or an ASO as a secondary profession (scientist, photopgrapher, forester, etc.) and have not been exposed to some of the aviation safety tools out there, Part 1, 2 and 3 videos will help you get started, i.e., hopefully get you, your crewmembers and flight organization ready to fly! Also, if you feel like you’re Just-Winging-It when it comes to the flight environment you participate in (organization, crewmembers, etc.), take extra notes!

O’, I don’t want to be over dramatic, but flying can get out-of-hand quickly. This video makes that point, especially at low-level. Think Safety!

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As many of you know, fire season is in full swing in the Northern Hemisphere with devastating effect and will start up in the Southern Hemisphere soon. With that, I want to highlight how the Airborne Sensor Operator participates in this very important public safety operation.

Historically and currently, the backbone of aircrew members getting the job done is the pilot career field (both fixed wing and rotor). However, as most of us know, with the advent of new technology in our industry, more and more sensors, different type of aerial platforms, mission management systems, etc. are being employed. Along with that, ASOs are slowly becoming an important part of this industry sector.

One area of the Aerial Fire Fighting operation that requires ASO expertise is “Reconnaissance or Patrol Flights.” According to “Interagency Standards for Fire and Fire Aviation Operations” (Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management National Park Service U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Bureau of Indian Affairs, Department of Agriculture Forest Service, 2017)

     “The purpose of aerial reconnaissance or detection flights is to locate and relay
     fire information to fire management. In addition to detecting, mapping, and
     sizing up new fires, this resource may be utilized to provide ground resources
     with intelligence on fire behavior, provide recommendations to the IC when
     appropriate, and describe access routes into and out of fire areas for responding
     units. Only qualified Aerial Supervisors (ATGS, ASM, HLCO and Lead/ATCO)
     are authorized to coordinate incident airspace operations and give direction to
     aviation assets. Flights with a “Recon, Detection, or Patrol” designation should
     communicate with tactical aircraft only to announce the location, altitude and to
     relay their departure direction and altitude from the incident.”

An example of this type of mission and capability is the Colorado State PC-12 Multi Mission Aircraft. Click on the hyper link below and get a commander brief of this Capability and its role in Aerial Fire Fighting.

Colorado Multi Mission Aircraft & CO-WIMS 

Again, I just wanted to highlight or share how our profession is becoming an important member of this critical public safety team. Part 2 and 3 of this series are just referenced information you might find interesting and informative regarding Aerial Fire Fighting.

If you’re an Aerial Fire Fighter or SME and want to share more about Aerial Fire Fighting with your fellow ASOs or future Aerial Fire Fighting candidates, please let us know your thoughts on what it is like, training requirements and the future of sensor ops, both manned and unmanned.

ASOG Desk Editor

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ASOG Members,

One of our members (Wayne Dahlke - Training Lead, ARL-E at Leidos) is looking to hire folks for his program. Review his note below and contact him directly if you’re interested…Wayne is in the members directory.


ASOG Career Center

-------Job Announcement Note:

Do you miss flying, but don't want to deploy again for a while? Do you miss teaching students on the aircraft, and watching the light bulb go on? Do you want to help the Army and the joint community do airborne intelligence collection better? If so, I have a just the job for you!

I am looking for flight instructors who can teach in a classroom, understand intelligence collection, sensor operations, and how to translate engineering into operator.

I have 4 positions available, job numbers 653198 and 653199. Three are in El Paso, Texas (Ft Bliss) and one is in Manassas, VA. $85K+ plus benefits.

Please DM me if you have specific questions about the position or the company.

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ASOG Members,

The ASOG ASO Search and Rescue Working group just completed the 1st edition of the ASO Search and Rescue (Public Safety / Maritime / Fixed-Wing) Training Guide. As an ASOG member, you can “Log-In” and find the guide (and in the future other training guides) in the “Career Center/Training and Cert.” area of the website (which will link you to the final document developed in the working group).

As you know, one of ASOGs goals is to codify the standards, techniques and procedures across the different aerial work industry sectors related to the Airborne Sensor Operator position or profession. This is our first guide under the category of “ASO Training.” The intent of these guides is to “what to expect to study” fashion regarding general knowledge for fulfilling the responsibilities of a crewmember and a basic understanding of specific ASO operations. The means to obtain this knowledge can be accomplished via self-study (internet, books, etc.), learning from peers or by taking a course.

If you have any questions, inputs or comments regarding this guide, please send me a note. Our/your guides are living documents and have the Lat/Long space to change. If you are interested in developing a training guide on your specific ASO position, please let me know, we’ll get a working group started.

Before I close, I would like to recognize the members who led the way in developing this guide. Both members are truly Subject Matter Experts in both Maritime/SAR operations and training. Michael Sheehy and Glen Moratti, my hat is off to you! Super effort on taking time out of your busy schedules and sharing your top-level experience and knowledge with our global profession…”Good On You!”

Thank you Everyone!


ASOG Desk Editor (Patrick Ryan)

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Even though you might NOT see yourself from your current professional or student position as an Airborne Sensor Operator (ASO), see if you’re an Airborne Sensor Operator in this Q&A:

Q1: Is my primary profession (.e.g. Archeologist, Police Officer, Student, Photographer, ISR Imagery Analysis, Land Surveyor, Fireman, Research Scientist, Realtor, Engineer, Powerline Inspector, GIS Analysis, etc.) other than a person solely (full-time) participating in aviation & aerial remote-sensing activity? Also, can aerial remote sensing capabilities support my primary professional goals & objectives?

Q2: Do I participate in Aerial Work flying activities with a Pilot-In-Command (PIC) of a manned or unmanned air vehicle and operate & collect data with remote-sensors and/or I’m both a PIC and sensor operator controlling an unmanned system to collect data?

Q3: Does my participation in an aviation activity as a crew member or team member (manned & unmanned) could affect the safety of an aircraft conducting a flight and the results of the data collected? 

If you answered YES to the questions above, you’re an Airborne Sensor Operator! Because this profession is not well defined in the global academic, commercial and civil aviation administration communities (something ASOG is trying to change), it could be confusing to see yourself as an Aerial Work crew member. There’re many non-flying professionals who drive their car to an airport with the intent to fly & collect data or participate on a sUAS crew who are working as an aircrew member vs. a hybrid-passenger! Bottom-line, the Airborne Sensor Operator profession consists of both full-time & part-time Airborne Sensor Operator professionals.

Either full-time or part-time, the following recommended standards will round-out your professional skills and improve the quality of your aviation participation and data collection activities:

General Responsibilities - Airborne Sensor Operators should:

  • Approach flying with seriousness and diligence,
  • seek excellence in airmanship,
  • develop and exercise good judgment and sound principles of aeronautical decision-making,
  • recognize and manage risks effectively, and use sound principles of risk management,
  • maintain situational awareness, and adhere to prudent operating practices and personal operating parameters (e.g., minimums),
  • act with responsibility and courtesy, and
  • adhere to applicable laws and regulations.

Crewmembers, Passengers or People In Your Area of Operations - Airborne Sensor Operators should:

  • Maintain a professional crew member mindset at all times (vs. Passenger mindset),
  • keep your fellow crewmembers, passengers or people in your area of operations as safe as possible,
  • act professionally towards your crew members, passengers or people in your area of operations and practice the principles of Crew Resource Management,
  • seek to prevent unsafe conduct by crew members, passengers or people in your area of operations, and
  • avoid operations that may alarm, disturb, or endanger crewmembers, passengers or people in your area of operations or people on the surface.

Training and Proficiency - Airborne Sensor Operators should:

  • participate in regular recurrent training to maintain and improve proficiency beyond legal or professional requirements,
  • participate in flight safety & remote-sensing education programs,
  • remain vigilant and avoid complacency,
  • train to recognize and deal effectively with emergencies & collection system failures,
  • prepare for and review each lesson carefully, and
  • maintain an accurate log to satisfy your training and currency requirements.

Use of Technology - Airborne Sensor Operators should:

  • become familiar with and properly use appropriate aviation & remote-sensing technologies,
  • Invest in new technologies that advance flight safety & remote-sensing. Learn and understand the features, limitations, and proper use of such technologies,
  • carry redundant systems and equipment and use them in appropriate circumstances,
  • maintain basic flying and remote-sensing skills to enhance safety in the event of failure or absence of advanced instrument displays or automation, and
  • use flight simulators and training devices as available and appropriate.

After reading this post and you believe you meet the definition and standards of an Airborne Sensor Operator (even as a secondary profession or duty), Airborne Sensor Operator Group (ASOG) welcomes you to the community. So get out there and “kick the tires, light the fire and you’re cleared to cut.” But most of all be safe and enjoy being an Airborne Sensor Operator!

If you’re interested in furthering the ASO profession and want additional information regarding ASOG & its mission, you can find us at or if you’re reading this post on our webpage, click the “Sign-Up” button.

ASOG Desk Editor (Patrick Ryan)

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The Will to Survive

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”     Benjamin Franklin

Hey, Airborne Sensor Operator do you have the will to survive? As Airborne Sensors Operators (ASO), our work environment at many times is in remote areas, over every type of terrain and during every season around the world. If an aircrew makes a forced landing, or if a sUAS/RPA ground surveying crew has a vehicle problem in a harsh situation, or gets lost on a job in a very remote location, they need to know the basic skills to stay alive and safe until rescue comes.

Up to this period, military ASOs and a large percentage of the public Safety sector ASOs (Law Enforcement, SAR, First Responders, etc.) have received Aircrew Survival Training be it ground (Summer/Winter) or water survival. However, many on the civilian or commercial side of the ASO community have not.

The point of this post is to provide “food for thought” for those civil or commercial Airborne Sensor Operators who routinely are in a position to be in “harm’s way” when flying in an aircraft or traversing remote terrain with their sUAS/RPAs. Because many governments and companies don’t require ASOs to obtain Aircrew Survival Training, they run a very high risk of “not making it” if they have a “bad day at the office!”

For those commercial ASOs who had training when they were in the military or received private training many years ago, a refresher course or a personal “Safety Stand-down Day” to review the basics to knock the rust off would recalibrate your skills. Remember, ”if you don’t use it, you lose it!”  

For those commercial ASOs who have never thought of this area of their professional ASO development kit, the basic tracks one can take to prepare better for a “bad day at the office” are:

Track 1 (Self-Study):

A few of the larger civil aviation organizations around the world and some nongovernment organizations provide some form of free information, courses or online programs regarding surviving after a forced landing or in a wilderness survival situation. Additionally, you can find open source training products and videos on the internet. Overall, even though this information is worded to manned aircraft pilots, as you know, the same information applies to unmanned aircrew members as well as all manned aircraft non-pilot crewmembers. Below is just a sample of sources available:

Track 2 (Training Course):

The second track is taking a course, for a fee, which should consist of both classroom and field exercises.  There are many companies around the world which provide such services and the type of training varies. In general, these programs typically provide participants with the skills and knowledge to:

  • Prepare for an emergency (Gear/kits, Contingency Planning, etc.)
  • React to a forced landing (land/water-based) or ground-event emergency
  • Care for themselves in a survival situation
  • Utilize available survival equipment
  • Participate to the maximum extent in their rescue.

To sum it up, If you’re a professional ASO who works sensors onboard an aircraft or off-board a UAS/RPA in remote locations but has no training regarding how to handle an emergency or survival situation, are you prepared to handle or better yet have the “Will to Survive” a life threating event?

Again, “Food for Thought”!


Author: Patrick Ryan

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Aviation Safety and the ASO!

One of the major reasons ASOG came about is to make a small contribution to aviation (+ aerial remote-sensing) and a big contribution to the Airborne Sensor Operator (ASO) profession. One significant area is Aviation Safety and how the ASO is a critical part of the “Safety Net” (this includes unmanned sensor operators who support a drone operator…as a crew).

Take a look at this webpage and review the Accident archives related to the ASO community (Flight Type – Aerial photography, Ambulance, Calibration, Cinematography, Fire Fighting, Geographical, Meteorological, Military, Survey/Patrol/Reconnaissance, and Topographic):

B3A / Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Archives

One negative trend I see with accidents that appear to have an ASO onboard is the term “PAX on board” which could mean that not enough emphasis (knowing who’s a PAX and who’s a Crew member, training, CRM, etc.) given to this critical crew position.

What other trends do you see?

ASOG Desk Editor (Patrick)


(Image: Wikimedia Commons – Guillaume Normand)

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Back To Basics (B2B)

Fellow ASOG Members,

I thought you would find these articles interesting & informative. The following articles are good readings, i.e., highlighting several of the basic skill-sets required by an ASO or aircrew member…Aviate, Navigate, Communicate. Plus, they link to the previous blog on ASO Aviate, Navigate, Communicate:  

Aviate - 6 Basic Risk Mitigation Steps to Hone Your Flying Skills

Navigate - Understanding the Lost Art of Aerial Navigation

Communicate - The Basic Elements of Aviation Communications

Even though these articles focus on the pilot side of the aircraft, are there any differences for the ASO or other non-pilot crew members?


ASOG Desk Editor (Patrick)

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Written by Patrick McConnell, President, ClearSkies Geomatics Inc.

My marketing director has been pushing me for over 6 months to write this article.  So today I am putting keyboard to bits and bytes to write something that will hopefully engage the reader to participate by adding comments either for or against my position.

Why consider purchasing used aerial sensor equipment?  There is risk involved, right?  What should I do to ensure the investment (ROI) would be successful?

Purchasing used aerial survey equipment can be a scary thing to do.  The biggest benefit of considering used equipment is that often, the equipment sells for a fraction of the new equipment available to the market.  What is scary about the process?  Well, if it were my money, my concerns would be whether or not the system comes complete (no missing parts or software), is the system still serviceable by the manufacturer, is the software transferable, is there a warranty, will the system deliver the expected specification to my end user, are there export restrictions etc.…  As a broker of such systems, it’s my job to make sure all of these questions are answered to ensure a deliverable that meets the buyer’s expectations.  If there are no surprises, then I feel like I have done my job in an ethical and professional way.

First off, when considering the purchase of any piece of equipment, it is important to understand your end user needs and this must be done in a way that satisfies most of your end client needs.  I have yet to see any equipment that satisfies all the possible needs of different end users so the goal has to be to meet as many scenarios possible.  From an aerial camera perspective, consideration of image quality and swath are very important. From a LiDAR perspective, points per meter, avoiding shadows and swath width seem to be the most desired features.

In the years that I have been in the business of marketing aerial survey equipment, the most significant change I have seen is the market has been two fold for both the camera and LiDAR markets.  First, swath of the data has in most cases doubled while image quality has improved but not at the same rates as swath growth.  Secondly, software workflow and tools have improved greatly by the advent of greater computing power and better tools to fix data.  Both of these factors affect efficiencies so the bigger the jobs, the more money you potentially save by adopting a newer sensor.  From a qualitative perspective, passive sensors like cameras, have improved (better radiometry, smaller pixels, better signal to noise ratios) but not to the point where older sensors (10 year old) have become obsolete.  I have noticed that from a geometry perspective, in general, the improvements have been relative to the improvement of image quality.  So, some improvement, but nothing like footprint improvement.  Also, the geometry generated from these older systems meet most specifications required by the end user.  There are a greater number of these older sensors in operation today than newer sensors and this is because the data generated from these older cameras continue to meet the end user specifications from a qualitative perspective.  For active sensors, the number of clean points per square meter is the big driver for this market.  To achieve this, these sensors are capable of generating more usable point than ever, while pushing the envelope on swath width.  So there are fewer older active sensors still operating in the market today because of the end user desire to have a denser point cloud.

What to look for in buying used equipment?  First, you want to make sure that this equipment has been well taken care of during its tenure with the current owner.  Is the equipment clean?  Has it been maintained by the manufacturer? When was it last used successfully?  Has it been bench tested, or air tested?  Can it be set up in an airplane for viewing and testing?  What are the acceptance criteria?  If needed, what would it cost to have the manufacturer test the system?  Is the post processing software transferable?  Are there any restricted items such as IMUs and how does this affect you? All of these factors play out in pricing of the system.

Why would someone sell his or her own equipment?  The simple answer is that the manufacturers will not usually buy your system back unless it’s on a ‘trade in’ for something newer.  If you have ever purchased a new car and traded in an old one, then you know what that experience will be like…  One of the things manufacturers do to hold you ‘captive’ is they do not restrict the sale of the sensor, but they restrict the transfer of the software making it nearly impossible for you as a seller to control your asset sale to a third party.  It’s akin to buying a Tesla, and allowing for the resale of that car, but without the software included.  Without allowing the transfer of the software in a Tesla, the value of this car results in in a parts only value unless the transfer is done ‘under the table’.  Try getting service on that car after this happens…  This is why in most industries, when you buy an asset, the license of that asset belongs to you, to do as you wish provided you do not reverse engineer the software.  In a lot of cases, in our industry, this is not the case.  You can sell the hardware with no problem, but the software must be repurchased at exorbitant prices.  This fact should be considered when purchasing new equipment.  It is something that should be a negotiating point when purchasing new equipment, otherwise you will be stuck with an unsellable asset later on.  In short, why spend a million + on a new system today if 5 years down the road you will not have control of the sale of the full system?

Why use a broker and not sell your equipment on your own?  Selling equipment through a broker has certain advantages.  You can flow the contract through a broker and avoid any potential litigation with the end user if the system is not delivered as promised.  Exporting restricted items can be tricky and a good broker should be licensed with the Department of State to do these activities.   Shipping of the equipment is not always straightforward and having a broker organize this on your behalf can be a real value.  Finally, good brokers have worldwide reach thus increasing your chances at getting top dollar for your asset.

The morale of this narrative is that if you can, use a broker to help guide you through this process.  Advice is mostly free…


Image: Wikicomons – Cargyrak

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ASOG Members,

You might find this guide or checklist useful in your ASO profession. Based on some ASOs networking regarding career transition and job searching, several of the members of our group put together this simple guide to help. It’s based on their experience, and they just wanted to share their humble thoughts to further the ASO profession and our fellow ASOs.

Below is just is an excerpt from the guide. You can find the full document in the member’s only “Career Center” – “Career Path” – “Career Management Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (TTP)” section of the ASOG webpage (

If you want to contribute additional information to this guide, please speak up, and we’ll put it in the 2nd edition.


ASOG Desk Editor



The Airborne Sensor Operator Career Transition Checklist is intended to serve as an initial job search or career transition tool for Airborne Sensor Operators (ASOs) seeking information on various types of aerial remote-sensing industry sectors.

The checklist section of this guide reflects many of the tasks related to successfully transitioning from one ASO job or aerial work industry sector to another. Every job search situation is different, so personalize the checklist as needed. This guide is divided into sections for ease; however, tasks from “Flight planning,” “Preflight,” and “Taxi & Take-Off” phases may overlap.

Lastly, this is a living document which is periodically updated by the ASOG community to reflect changes in aviation, remote-sensing practices, and the professional environment. Please send suggestions, edits, errata, questions, and comments to

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ASOG News Letter, 2nd Edition

Managing Director's Message

I would like to wish all of you a very happy, safe and prosperous 2018!

At the end of 2017 and five months into our existence (outside of Linked-In), we had over 80 professional members from around the world join our aircrew community, and our reach continues to grow at a good pace. Additionally, we have over 2,500 connections/followers on Linked-In and other social media sites with the same positive response.

What I see for 2018 regarding our group is continue to grow ASOG capabilities & services, motivate networking and enhance career opportunities by the ASOG charter ( 

By this time next year, I anticipate that ASOG will be larger and more formal with a few success stories under its belt. However, the real size, sophistication, and results of ASOG will be determined by you the members.  If you’re interested in taking a more active role in the development of the Airborne Sensor Operator profession, please contact me or just go wild on the webpage. I think the adage of “THE MORE YOU PUT IN - THE MORE YOU GET OUT” is very true.

Speaking of that, I would like to recognize some members who have jumped in and participated since ASOG began. Their efforts, big & small, have made a difference for themselves, other ASOs, ASOG and the ASO profession in general. These members are:

  • Wayne Dahlke
  • Georg DeCock
  • Kyle Evans
  • Phil Linning
  • Michael Sheehy
  • Mike Tucker
  • Juan Pena Ibanez
  • Joshua Cohen
  • Pierre De Backer
  • Harry Macleod

Also, I would like to recognize the following firms for their support of the ASOG mission. Without the bridge between professional ASOs and the organizations that supply, support, train and hire ASOs, we will not advance as an industry:

  • PAvCon
  • AeroEnterprise GmbH
  • Airborne Technologies GmbH
  • GOEL Training & Consulting Inc.
  • DTSI Consulting Inc.
  • R4 Inc.

Again, I wish all of you a super 2018 and I’m looking forward to networking and collaborating with you this year! If you ever have a question or just want to cross-talk, please reach out to me.

Best Regards,

Patrick T. Ryan

Founder & Managing Director, ASOG

General Improvements

As part of ASOGs continuing effort to improve and help all of us as a professional network, a “Supporter” program is now up and running. Like I mentioned above, this program is designed to bridge with companies and organizations that supply, support, train and hire Airborne Sensor Operators. If you know of a company or organization that would like to associate with ASOG, please have them make contact with me ( Again, no fee or donation required, just recognition of ASOG's mission.

Additionally, an “Event” tab is now linked to the Homepage. There is nothing more rewarding than connecting with a fellow member or like-minded professionals in person. The intent of this function of the ASOG webpage is for you to announce that you’ll be at a particular event and that you want to meet. I’ll put Bitcoin on it that you’ll walk away enhancing your professional position and think twice about having the 3rd beer. If you want to use this function, go to “Homepage” and click the sub-tab “Events” then fill out the blanks…that easy!

Shortly, a “Publication Library” will be launched. The intent of this page, like the Link Library, is a resource for members (new & old ASOs) to use in their professional ASO career. The library will consist of community generated or donated documents, articles, checklist, slide presentations and pamphlets. So, if you have something that the community can find useful, please send it to me, and I’ll get it posted.

Speaking of the future, if you have an idea to improve or add to the ASOG project. Let me know. The more feedback on needs & wants will only make ASOG useful to you.

Talking about future ideas, some members have recommended that we beef-up our “Job Center.” If anyone knows of a good service or software that can automatically search and feed ASO or similar job postings, please let me know. I’ll take a look and implement it. Also, do we want a platform for individuals to post their resumes / CVs?

Standards & Guides Update

As part of our mission to standardize & guide our profession, several ASOG documents will be released this year. The first is:

  • General ASO Professional Standards Guide
  • ASO Transition Checklist Guide
  • ASO Resume & Cover Letter Guide

In the future, ASOG would like to post general guides on career path & training standards for specific ASO positions (Aerial Mapping & Surveying, Tactical Flight Officer, Aerial Photographer, TACCO, Tactical System Officer, etc.) and general quick reference technical guides. If you ever wanted to leave your professional mark on the world, this might be the project for you. If you’re interested, reach out to me, and we’ll collaborate.


Our new membership structure has proved very popular for networking and membership is increasing steadily.  I’m delighted to welcome our latest members since 1 Dec 2017:

  • Kyle Evans
  • Amy Cohen
  • Jimmy Burnside
  • Howard Jackson
  • Robert
  • Adam Stiles
  • Glen Moratti
  • Aaron Bettison

If you know of someone who would be interested in being a member of ASOG and advance themselves and the profession, send them to our website ( and have them join. Remember….

“Birds of a feather flock together.”

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We’re all aware that the information, innovation and disruptive (I2D) technology revolution is greatly affecting our world. Besides society in general, one of the main discussion points in this human experience is the effect it will have on jobs & professions in the future, i.e., ” taking the man out of the loop.” Today, the effect of this revolution in the aviation and remote-sensing sector has already started with the everyday application of scalable (size, reliability & cost) unmanned/manned air vehicle systems, sensors, and data processing capabilities. With the fog of tech revolution all around us, what effect does this have on the Airborne Sensor Operator (ASO) Profession?

Based on my experience of over twenty-five years in the airborne remote-sensing profession, both manned and unmanned, I believe the answer to this question is twofold. The first is “Yes,” It is and will affect the ASO profession. The ASO profession is no different than other professions that are seeing or hearing the word “redundant” or “not necessary.” The threat of job loss or shrinking opportunities due to technology changes is “High.” Technology has simplified many functions that an ASO is required to accomplish…e.g… from mission planning to process data. Currently, this technological change has made the ASOs job easier, but the next tech change (which is coming) could be less forgiving regard to “need” of a person in the traditional aerial collection process. Bottom-line, denial, and resistance to this change will only decrease opportunities for ASOs to provide a needed service regarding aerial remote-sensing capabilities to both its clients and society in general.

The second part of this answer is “No”…it will not affect the ASO community as it did to the Air Navigator or other professions…ie…extinction.  However, by history or definition when it comes to aerial remote-sensing, ASOs have always been in a critical position (more so than pilots, flight engineers & navigators) of managing or influencing aerial remote-sensing technology & data. The ASO profession is the Technical Liaison between the collection platform, sensor, and the end-user. Typically, the ASO comes from the end-user community (be it surveying, cinematography, public safety or ISR) with the ability/skill to satisfy collection requirements from the sky. Because of this position, the ASO profession can adapt to the fog of tech revolution better than many professions and continue to satisfy a critical need. Bottom-line, individual ASOs will need to abandon old professional models and innovate new roles & responsibilities as aerial remote-sensing technology changes. How does this look like ASOs will need to expand out of the back seat and take more of a technical or operator lead in the development, implementation, and employment of new aerial/remote-sensing technology at the controls & back offices. Additionally, to be a lead, ASOs will need to adapt to a never-ending rhythm of continual learning & certifying with new systems, aerial platforms, and processes. 

So, to Taxi this post to Parking, the I2D tech revolution is in full swing, and many professions are at risk. The professions that have a chance, because of their technical & client base knowledge & relationship, will adapt & succeed effectively with the advancement of technology. However, the only way for a profession like the Airborne Sensor Operator to leverage their position and advance it into the future is to re-learn, lead and innovate.  I believe the ASO in the aerial remote-sensing sector is in a perfect position be it on the ground or in the air!

So, what are your thoughts? Does our profession have a future?

Image: Wikimedia commons - Mattbuck

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Promoting the ASO Profession

Hi Everyone,

As some of you know, one of ASOG’s goals is to promote the profession ( ). A great method is to share videos or pictures of ASOs doing their job, the systems they use or the missions they fly. The video I posted here (click the image above) highlights the role & responsibilities of an unmanned ISR Sensor Operator Instructor (O’, listen to SSgt Joseph points…spot on!). 

If you have a favorite video or picture that relates to the ASO and aerial remote sensing profession (commercial mapping/surveying, public safety, manned & unmanned collection platforms, sensors, educational lectures, news clips, etc. etc.), let’s see it…just post the link on the Blog Board with a few words highlighting the main points! Also, we’ll share it across our other ASOG Social Media profiles for the public to see.

Thanks Everyone,


ASOG Desk Editor (Patrick)

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