Police Use Drone in Search for Missing University of Virginia Student

Law enforcement agencies are increasingly asking the FAA for special permission to use aerial drones in their searches for missing people.

by / October 2, 2014

Yet another state has turned to drones in its search for missing people. The search for a missing University of Virginia student now includes an aerial drone, a first for the state.

Police have been searching for 18-year-old college student Hannah Elizabeth Graham, last seen more than two weeks ago at the Downtown Mall in Charlottesville. The drone’s camera is being used to look more closely at objects of interest, according to one drone operator, a Fox affiliate reported.

The case received more than 3,000 tips as to the student’s possible whereabouts, and police asked property owners to search their property. The drone is intended to assist in searching the region’s large tracts of land.

Aerial drones were used in at least two other search and rescue missions in recent months. In July, an 82-year-old man with dementia who had been missing for three days was found standing in a bean field in Wisconsin after a drone hobbyist offered his services to search for the man. An aerial drone was also used in the search for a woman in northern Texas in September.

The Federal Aviation Administration plans to have regulations in place by September 2015 that would allow for drones to operate within the national airspace.