dronesgrandcanyonRangers at Grand Canyon National Park understand search and rescue is part of the job. They ran 293 such operations last year. But none of those used drones in an attempt to find missing hikers.

Park officials sent drones into the air above and inside the canyon this past week for the first time in an attempt to find LouAnn Merrell and her step grandson Jackson Standefer. They disappeared earlier this month while crossing a creek on a hike with family members, according to the Associated Press.

While several national parks use drones for research, Grand Canyon National Park is the only one with a team of drones for search and rescue operations. The park has five such drones and four people able to fly them. The drones are around 1.5 feet wide, less than a foot tall, and and their batteries only keep them afloat for 20 minutes, but they stream video back to operators in real time. (We contacted Grand Canyon National Park to find out more about the operation but have yet to hear back.)

Park staff deployed the drones in the search for Standefer and Merrell as a complement to more traditional rescue methods, such as a helicopter and teams of searchers on the ground. They stopped using the drones on Wednesday after three days of flying. The park has rolled back the extent of their search for the two, who have not been found.

Source: Mashable.com