Aerial Surveillance over the Palau marine sanctuary was initially proposed in 2013. A series of tests were conducted with various technologies. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles were the first. The high initial cost ruled them out together with unfavorable vessel detection ability.
The Republic of Palau next tested the Sea Dragon system. A military grade combination of radar and gyro stabilized cameras. A twin engine Cessna variant is fitted with the surveillance equipment and used as a complete package with a pilot and trained observer.
During the initial trial, Sea Dragon scored a huge success by finding and documenting fishing vessels transshipping. This is illegal in Palau. It demonstrated the need to continue patrols far off-shore.
The system however had issues. It wasn’t a practical solution for long term surveillance despite it’s initial success. It has however found use in other parts of FSM.
A simple, cheap and reliable solution had to be found.
This is where Pacific Mission Aviation stepped into the ring. Part of their work is providing medevac solutions to the outer atolls of Yap and FSM. For this they need an aircraft with a greater range than a standard single engined Cessna. A twin engine Beechcraft modified Queen Air was chosen due to it’s reliability and long range of over 1000 Nautical miles.
The below film documents actual missions that took place during November of 2017.
In addition you can also check out an earlier behind the scenes post written during the development of this project .
Please check out the website for Pacific Mission Aviation here
The future of surveillance
The conclusion from all these tests is that simplicity is fundamental.
However, as we continuously approach our time horizon, developments occur. I’m talking about the recent U.S plan to install military radar stations in a variety of locations in Palau. One of these installations will be in the SW islands. They aim to give the U.S a better idea about military ship movements in the area. The US and Palau also propose to use this to locate and identify fishing vessels. With this level of tech in place it will probably become impossible to enter Palau’s EEZ undetected. We certainly have an interesting few years ahead of us.
Keep checking back as we continue to document the surveillance efforts over the National Marine Sanctuary.
Location scouting for a new project: Over the first two weeks of June I was commissioned to find locations that fit in with a storyboard for a production due to be shot here for the Palau Visitors Authority.
I can’t divulge many details about the plot line right now of course only to say that it will be a tourism educational film to be shown on flights into Palau.
Filming took 6 days with crews from the US and Australia including local entities with a team from Lightning Strike providing Aerial Drone, Underwater and Behind the Scenes filming services.
Telling the story
Part of the storyboard has an Aerial pov, so I was happy to oblige with a few days of drone flying at some of the most photogenic sites in Palau.
This major production is now in the editing stage with the release date to be confirmed. When it is released it is going to cause a real stir as it will be the first of it’s kind. Watch this space and be sure to check back to see it’s progress!
Now that production is finished and the campaign has been rolled out, check this link to find out more about the Palau Pledge and see the finished film.
If you have a project in mind that needs locations in Palau check out these links.
Please feel free to contact us and we can discuss plans for pre-Production.
There is one place that I would like to film more than anywhere in Palau.
This is the northern reefs and atolls of Kayangel.
And I just got back from filming up there and wanted to share this with you:
This image is created from 7 photographs stitched together and was shot via a drone during our lunch break on the 2nd closest island. Great conditions prevailed after a stormy night but we went up to Kayangel to do some pre-production scouting and subject tests for a new project based on these northern reefs and islands of Palau.
I could not have asked for a better start.
Watch this space to see how this project develops and this initial film from our discoveries there.
If you’d like to find out more about the work being done by the Ebiil Society see this link