Taking A Shot With UAV Technology

Linda Dela Cruz
Wednesday - July 14, 2005
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Jeff Williams and Art Castalbi of Williams
Aerospace test a UAV

Jeff Williams is hand-launching his business with an airplane that’s able to take photos and fly without a pilot.

It’s a UAV, an unmanned aerial vehicle.

Williams is taking the information he used in his former military life down to the civilian market. With Williams Aerospace, he is proud to show off his first plane, which has a six-foot wing span.

“I think it’s neat to be able to sit in a ground station and to have a machine flying about 20 miles away simultaneously taking a photo,” Williams says.

Farmers, such as coffee growers, can use the photos of their crops to see if any part of their huge acreage has any problems, or if the crop is ready to harvest. The oil pipeline and railroad industry may be able to use these planes to take photos that keep an eye on how their projects are doing. Real estate professionals can have aerial photographs in high resolution to help folks who are buying and selling property. Scientists can track wildlife migration, and perhaps the fire department can use it for search and rescue. For those who love having all the bells and whistles, an optional pan-and-tilt camera is available, as is an infrared camera.

The plane is navigated by a laptop computer, which serves as the brain to guide the aircraft where it needs to go. And the plane doesn’t make a lot of noise.

While doing his thesis for his master’s in aeronautical science from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Williams came up with the idea to have a UAV usable for civilians. A chief petty officer in the Navy who strategized for the country as an acoustic and radar operator for P-3 Orion planes, he was very familiar and passionate about the subject.

A self-proclaimed technology geek, Williams was surprised one day when his wife Leilani gave him a Christmas present of filing the official business papers that made him CEO of Williams Aerospace.

Leilani’s job with the company will be to serve as vice president of sales and marketing, while maintaining her career as an account executive at Clear Channel Radio. In addition to the dynamic duo, the team includes Craig Williams, vice president of operations; Rich Carlson, operations manager; John Judy, service manager; and Art Castaldi, test pilot.

Williams has been doing his research, and he’s conducted several test flights at Kapaa Quarry in Kaneohe. He’s looking forward to seeing his project in use.

“I feel like a 16-year-old kid with the ultimate toy,” he says.

For more information, call 392-0530 or log onto www.williamsaerospace.com

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