Monday morning saw us leaving Gamboa for BCI on the 8am boat. Outside the lab, the first UAV was set up and test-flown on the island’s helipad. Things looked very promising after the UAV’s first mission: little energy consumption under low wind conditions and great landing on an elevated slope. However, something went wrong with the fail-safe and the UAV lost telemetry on its way out on the second mission. This was close to midday.


A boat was available. As quickly as possible, the rescue mission was set out in the general direction of the lost plane, around the island, while it still had battery power. Telemetry was re-established and the GPS coordinates for the UAV was found. The next step involved engaging the help of a certified tree-climber from a neighbouring lab.


Setting off at a little past 3pm, a supposed 45-minute (one way) trek through the jungle on Pearson’s trail took more than that. The party of three returned to the research station around 7pm… They had visual contact the UAV, nevertheless, but it was too dark – and high – for any tree-climbing to be done, and so it was left to sit out in the tropical rain. That wouldn’t have been good for the electronics and camera on-board…



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