1st SOCES members complete UAS training

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Miranda Mahoney
  • 1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

Air Commandos with the 1st Special Operations Civil Engineer Squadron attended an unmanned aircraft system flight training course at the FieldWerx Makerspace in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, April 5-9, 2021, to improve the way they conduct roof inspections.

The new inspection process uses a drone, Skydio 2, to examine a roof’s condition, allowing members to determine the level of maintenance required before ever climbing onto the building.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Nicholas Cervantes, the NCO in charge of FieldWerx, came up with the idea.

“The intent of the whole thing was to make it easier on them because I did it as an Airman,” said Cervantes, who is a civil engineer by trade. “We would be in the hot sun for an entire day with irritating, cumbersome fall protection on and have to clamp on to a roof. It’s just not modern.”

Cervantes submitted his proposal to the Air Force Special Operations Command Spark Tank 2020 competition and won, kickstarting collaboration with the Hsu Educational Foundation for training and implementation.

Four 1st SOCES members completed classroom learning and hands-on application during the course, with individual attention from a professional UAS flyer, to master the skill before using the new method on base.

“This way of doing roof inspections is faster and safer,” said Staff Sgt. Edward Walker, a structural craftsman with the 1st SOCES.

Currently, a roof inspection can take up to three hours depending on size, but using the drone could reduce that to just 20 minutes.

Once the structural craftsmen are comfortable with the equipment, the new process is set to be implemented at Hurlburt soon after the course, and Cervantes expressed hope for Air Force-wide use in the future.