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Virginia Tech eBee unmanned aircraft has endless applications for lands management

two white men standing in field.

Professor John McGee, right, discusses the unmanned aircraft flight with Robert Stieg, CEO of the Clermont Foundation, which operates the Clermont Farm property. The aircraft was operated by Daniel Cross, an employee of Virginia Tech’s Conservation Management Institute who is a licensed pilot, in accordance with Federal Aviation Administration safety regulations and other guidelines.

Virginia Tech has another tool in its arsenal for managing land resources, from inventorying forests and identifying land-use changes to assessing soil erosion and water runoff on agriculture lands. A small 1.5-pound unmanned aircraft, commonly called a drone, showcased its potential to collect data in early May, flying over Clermont Farm in Clarke County.

“Our unmanned aircraft, a fixed wing eBee, flew about 350 feet above Clermont Farm, a site that is a Virginia Department of Historic Resources operating farm,” said John McGee, professor and Virginia Cooperative Extension geospatial specialist in Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.

The unmanned aircraft’s sensors gathered information that will support future projects by supplying researchers with information about this cultural landscape.

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