Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office Deploys Thermal Drone to Locate Missing Woman

Thermal Camera Technology Proves Crucial in Search and Rescue Efforts

In late March, the Winnebago County Sheriff's Office in Wisconsin successfully utilized a equipped with a thermal camera to locate a missing woman. This innovative has revolutionized the department's approach to operations, enabling them to save lives more efficiently and effectively.

Sgt. Steve McCorkle, a drone pilot for the department, highlighted the advantages of using drones in such situations.

“Having a tool like this that can essentially see in the dark because of its thermal capabilities, we were able to locate her very quickly,” McCorkle reportedly stated.

The missing woman, who suffered from dementia, had been lost for approximately three hours in remote terrain with temperatures dipping into the low twenties.

Drones Offer Efficiency and Safety in Search Operations

Traditional search methods, such as deploying officers on foot with flashlights, can be time-consuming and resource-intensive. However, drones provide a swift and comprehensive solution.

“You know, we can go out on foot with flashlights and we can search as far as we can hike. But it's going to take some time,” McCorkle explained.

The thermal imaging capabilities of drones prove particularly valuable in low-light conditions and vast, remote areas.

“The availability to see objects in the dark is a huge advantage. You know, searching a field during the day, we may have been able to find her on foot pretty quickly, but it was dark,” McCorkle noted. “It was [around] 10:00 at night and it was cold. And the area that she was at was very remote.”

Department Expands Drone Program and Training

Recognizing the immense potential of drones in various applications, the Winnebago County Sheriff's Office is actively expanding its drone program. In the previous year alone, drones were deployed between 20 and 30 times. The department is investing in additional units and training nearly a dozen officers to become certified drone pilots.

The goal is to increase the frequency and effectiveness of drone usage, not only within Winnebago County but also in assisting surrounding counties during events such as parades, festivals, and missing person searches.

“It's a unit that we're trying to grow,” McCorkle emphasized. “We've invested in quite a few units and we're using them for a variety of different purposes.”

The successful deployment of a drone's thermal camera to locate a missing woman in Winnebago County underscores the transformative impact of this technology on search and rescue efforts. By harnessing the power of drones, law enforcement agencies can save lives more efficiently, reduce response times, and ensure the safety of both the individuals in need and the officers involved in the search.

As the Winnebago County Sheriff's Office continues to expand its drone program, it sets an example for other departments seeking to modernize their approach to public safety.

The featured image is for illustration purposes only.

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Haye Kesteloo
Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Founder of, where he covers all drone-related news, DJI rumors and writes drone reviews, and, for all news related to electric vehicles. He is also a co-host of the PiXL Drone Show on YouTube and other podcast platforms. Haye can be reached at haye @ or @hayekesteloo.

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