During the last bit of our winter break part of the Fly Low Over Waterways (FLOW) team hopped in the car to go visit the Duke Marine Lab at Beaufort, NC. Four of us packed into my tiny Honda Civic for about six hours in the car.
We had great weather for the trip, it was very warm and a little overcast. We were immediately excited when we arrived on Pivers Island and saw the beautiful campus.
Rett Newton, our host, greeted us like old friends and took us on a tour of the workspaces and gave us a presentation about the research that they are doing with UAVs and GIS.
We took him out to lunch at a local, a strangely named restaurant, called the Sanitary Fish Market.
It lived up to the name. All of the fish seemed very clean and we enjoyed the view into the sound.
After lunch Rett showed us some of the different aircraft that they use and spoke about the benefits and specifications of each system. Seth was thrilled to see a homemade drone that was similar to one that he had built himself.
We learned about using 3D point clouds to map oyster beds, counting seals with GIS, scooping up whale blow with a drone borne petri dish, accidentally studying sand with UAV motors, examining horse health through rear view imagery and other fascinating applications.
We were visiting to support our project, which is observing solid pollution in freshwater and fine tuning the spectral signature library of plastics. Rett gave us a lot of good ideas and also got everyone excited to resume work on the project.
But I think the students were the most enthusiastic about all of the cool gadgets that they have at the Duke Marine Lab and Rett was gracious enough to let us get some hands on experience with the equipment.
This is the moment when I became a fixed wing convert. The fixed wing aircraft was mesmerizing because it seemed to work by magic!
After our tour was over we made sure to take some time and smell the salt air and visit with some other local flying experts.