Vigilant Aerospace Joins Red Cross UAS Team in Houston to Provide Airspace Safety

Vigilant Aerospace is providing the Red Cross unmanned aircraft team with FlightHorizon to provide air safety and situational awareness in support of disaster relief operations after Tropical Storm Harvey hit Houston, Texas.

Vigilant Aerospace has joined the Red Cross’ unmanned aircraft response team in Houston, Texas to provide air safety, situational awareness, and detect-and-avoid services for unmanned aircraft operations as flooding from Tropical Storm Harvey continues to devastate the area.

FAA Temporary Flight Restrictions

“In an emergency like this, it is great to have eyes overhead to help map out safe routes and work with ground crews in search-and-rescue efforts. We are glad to be able to provide services that help the disaster response crews in the face of this massive, natural disaster” said Vigilant Aerospace CEO, Kraettli Epperson.

The Red Cross unmanned aircraft response team, organized by the unmanned aircraft flight company PropellerHeads Aerial Photography, is flying with an FAA Certificate of Authorization (COA # 2017-AHQ-049-P107) allowing for drone operations in the Houston area – which is currently under FAA flight restrictions due to the emergency relief efforts. Flight operations are being coordinated with the Texas Air Operations Center and Unified Command.

FlightHorizon for Disaster Response

Epperson, an FAA-licensed Part 107 unmanned aircraft pilot, is in Houston working with the disaster response teams and operating the situational awareness and detect-and-avoid system for the drone flights.

“The big advantage of the FlightHorizon approach in incident response is that it is highly portable, can be run on a laptop with a small antenna to cover a large operational area and can provide immediate situational awareness for most aircraft. Because it uses existing air traffic control protocols and infrastructure, it requires no coordination or authorization to provide instantaneous integration for unmanned aircraft into the airspace,” said Epperson.

Vigilant Aerospace’s flight safety system, FlightHorizon, is providing real-time airspace safety and airspace situational awareness. The system’s collision avoidance is helping teams to avoid conflicts with medical evacuation and military aircraft operating in the city.

FlightHorizon software uses data from standard aviation transponders and radar, when available, to provide a 2D map-based view and 3D synthetic cockpit view of national airspace and full sensor fusion across aviation transponders, radars and online data feeds. The system is designed to help operators maintain flight safety, provide aircraft alerts and warnings, and provide specific collision avoidance commands, when necessary.

About the Storm

Vigilant Aerospace Equipment loaded for emergency response to Houston

Vigilant Aerospace Equipment loaded for emergency response to Houston

Tuesday, August 29 at 8:00 PM, the Weather Channel reported that Tropical Storm Harvey has “set a preliminary Lower 48 U.S. rainfall record for any tropical storm or hurricane as it continues to soak the upper Texas coast and Louisiana, worsening record-breaking, catastrophic flooding” (Link). The area is expected to continue to experience periods of torrential rain through the end of the week with continued flooding.

“The Cedar Bayou gauge near Highlands, Texas, has reported a preliminary 51.88 inches through 3 p.m. CDT Tuesday. This total will likely climb higher as Harvey’s rainfall continues. A Harris County Flood Warning System rain gauge near Friendswood, Texas, reported a four-day storm total of 49.32 inches through 9 a.m. CDT Tuesday.”


“If either of these are confirmed, it would be the heaviest storm-total rainfall from any tropical cyclone in the continental U.S. in records dating to 1950” according to meteorologist David Roth (Link).

“Still a named storm over 72 hours after landfall, Harvey is the longest a Texas landfalling hurricane has remained a named storm after landfall on record, according to Colorado State University tropical scientist Dr. Phil Klotzbach” (Link).

The Red Cross Response to Harvey

In response to Tropical Storm Harvey (a landfalling Category 4 hurricane), the Red Cross has activated 200+ emergency response vehicles, issued over 14 million hurricane and flood mobile app alerts, served 30,000 meals and snacks, and mobilized over 80 tractor trailer loads of cots, blankets, ready-to-eat meals, comfort kits, and general supplies (Link).

Vigilant Aerospace is proud to join the Tropical Storm Harvey disaster relief efforts.

About American Red Cross Texas Gulf Coast Region
From the website:
The American Red Cross Texas Gulf Coast Region provides service in the following main areas: disaster relief and preparedness education; assistance for military personnel, veterans and their families and health and safety courses. The Red Cross operates under an unfunded congressional mandate and relies on financial donations and grants. For more information, visit

Red Cross Hurricane Harvey Response Information:

About Propellerheads

Propellerheads is a veteran owned, FAA Part 107 licensed, fully insured, New York state-based business providing heavy lift cinematography, professional aerial photography, thermal imaging, NDVI multi-spectral, 3-D photogrammetry, and more. The Harvey UAS response team efforts are headed by Parker Gyokeres, owner and chief Remote Pilot of Propellerheads. They hold a nationwide FAA waiver for night-time operations and specialize in high risk indoor, close proximity, and closed-set operations.

For more information, visit

About Vigilant Aerospace Systems

Vigilant Aerospace Systems, Inc. is a provider of industry-leading next-generation flight management and safety systems for both manned and unmanned aircraft. The company’s software platform, FlightHorizon™, is based on an exclusively licensed NASA patent and provides situational awareness, synthetic cockpit views, collision avoidance and other flight information to enable integration of commercial drones into the national airspace.

For more information, visit

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