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State Patrol troopers learn to fly drones at site

Nebraska State Patrol uses drones to investigate mock crash scenes at Husker Harvest Days site in the summer.

Curt Arens, Editor, Nebraska Farmer

August 10, 2021

2 Min Read
Drone flying at HHD
TRAINING SITE: A partnership with Nebraska State Patrol and Husker Harvest Days lets the NSP use the HHD site for drone training of crash scenes. Mindy Ward

Flying drones around the Husker Harvest Days show site is nothing new. However, UAVs have been hovering around the show site in the off-season this past summer as well, not for use in agriculture, but in training exercises for the Nebraska State Patrol.

Lt. Brent Bockstadter, NSP coordinator for the Crash Reconstruction Program, says the Husker Harvest Days site has proven optimal for UAV pilot training for his troopers. These UAVs are being used to document accident scenes. According to Bockstadter, the use of drones for documentation speeds up crash site cleanup, so traffic flow is not impeded as long. He says it saves time and money on investigations of accident scenes to create a reliable report of the scene.

“At the Husker Harvest Days site, we have paved streets and intersections to allow us to replicate accident scenes,” Bockstadter says. “It allows us to do the training without using normal roadways.”

3 weeks of training

NSP used the HHD site this past summer on three separate weeks to do training for their troopers in flying the drones. “Nebraska State Patrol has trained 20 of our Crash Reconstruction personnel as UAV pilots from across the state for this project, to cover the six Troop Areas that we divide the NSP operations up in the state,” Bockstadter says.

“Based upon a projection of responding to a similar number of Crash Reconstruction investigations for serious injury or fatal crashes, and the published cost per hour for a road closure to the Commercial Vehicle Industry and private motorists, we project a nearly $2 million savings per year to motoring public” through the use of UAVs in this manner, he says.

The mapping system being used is relatively new this year. “This mapping system will be our primary method of scene documentation at all of the Crash Reconstruction scenes we respond to whenever possible,” Bockstadter says. “The only limitations to using this system are scenes with active precipitation in the form of rain or snow, or extreme winds.”

For the trainees, HHD has provided a safe and realistic training area that is out of the motoring public with simulated roadways.

“We are able to spread out in the open-air space to provide adequate room for the flight training and to stage up mock crash scenes for practical scenario-based training,” Bockstadter says.

About the Author(s)

Curt Arens

Editor, Nebraska Farmer

Curt Arens began writing about Nebraska’s farm families when he was in high school. Before joining Farm Progress as a field editor in April 2010, he had worked as a freelance farm writer for 27 years, first for newspapers and then for farm magazines, including Nebraska Farmer.

His real full-time career, however, during that same period was farming his family’s fourth generation land in northeast Nebraska. He also operated his Christmas tree farm and grew black oil sunflowers for wild birdseed. Curt continues to raise corn, soybeans and alfalfa and runs a cow-calf herd.

Curt and his wife Donna have four children, Lauren, Taylor, Zachary and Benjamin. They are active in their church and St. Rose School in Crofton, where Donna teaches and their children attend classes.

Previously, the 1986 University of Nebraska animal science graduate wrote a weekly rural life column, developed a farm radio program and wrote books about farm direct marketing and farmers markets. He received media honors from the Nebraska Forest Service, Center for Rural Affairs and Northeast Nebraska Experimental Farm Association.

He wrote about the spiritual side of farming in his 2008 book, “Down to Earth: Celebrating a Blessed Life on the Land,” garnering a Catholic Press Association award.

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