(AUGUSTA, Kan.) — By foot and flashlight, searching through the rubble in Greensburg wasn't easy in 2007, after a tornado destroyed the city.
Fast forward four years, inside this six hundred square foot workshop and far from the damage at Greensburg, Roger Powers and his team at Flint Hills Solutions are building unmanned aircraft.
The unmanned aircraft can fit on top of a desk, it's the future in the first step to helping law enforcement with public safety and recovery efforts.
"Small states can not afford to buy a multi million dollar system but the can afford to buy a fraction of that cost that has the same capability," says Roger Powers.
It looks like a helicopter and uses a GPS tracking device and auto pilot system that can be programmed to fly.
"Hit a button, launch now and it will automatically take off for six hours," says Powers.
And land exactly where it started, within a few inches.
"We're giving them a capability that is very high tech, very advanced and it works," says Powers.
But it takes weeks before the unmanned aircraft will fly.
It begins with a frame, former commercial pilot, Kirk Demuth, first attaches a gas or electric engine.
To make sure it can fly, the aircraft is launched for a manual test run then technology is added.
First, a GPS antenna, called a magnetometer, which tells the aircraft which direction its flying.
Then, a laser altimeter, which measures how far the aircraft is off the ground.
All of these parts are designed by Flint Hills Solutions and made by local Kansas companies.
"The next step is to set the software up and the autopilot to communicate with all the systems," says Kirk Demuth.
"Anyone, anyone including you could easily go through our training and in a couple of weeks you'll be able to fly one of these," says Powers
Before it goes up, a camera is secured to the front end onto a plate that isolates any vibrations preventing shaky video sent back to Roger's computer program, which also happens to fly the unmanned aircraft.
Many cameras used on the aircraft are bought at Best Buy.
"That keeping your cost down. its five-hundred dollars versus forty thousand dollars," says Powers.
Inside a mobile command center is where the hardware and software finally come together.
An initial flight test takes place inside the command center once the unmanned aircraft systems all check out it can be packaged and shipped to its customer.
And while it ships to just one customer, Roger says these unmanned aircraft will help thousands of people.