Standard Operating Procedures

Standard Operating Procedures

Learn and follow

Standard Operating Procedures (S.O.P.)


(Search With Aerial RC Multi-rotors)


Standard Operating Procedures & Code Of Conduct


While stating the S.O.P. as it pertains to pilots in the USA, the majority of these guidelines also apply to international members. This S.O.P. will be amended as needed in the future to include new laws (both domestic and international), UAS and SAR related regulations, guidelines and SWARM specific SOP for international and domestic members.

SWARM is a worldwide organization headquartered in the USA that offers NO-FEE aerial search services to SAR organizations, First Responders and Families of missing persons. Under no circumstances should any SWARM network member request compensation or require any fee for SWARM related assistance. Only under special circumstances and arrangements made PRIOR to any services rendered can the Swarm member be reimbursed (at the sole discretion of the host, family and SWARM/SAR IC/ Director). These reimbursements might include expenses incurred for necessary additional equipment including Mission specific tools etc. Prior SWARM admin must be obtained in all cases.

Example: The SAR unit in charge or “Primary Family Contact” might authorize the purchase of additional UAS batteries in order for SWARM team member(s) to conduct a broader area search. This is permissible if it doesn’t come in the form of “compensation” for services and is cleared prior by a SWARM Officer/Admin.

SWARM is an All-Volunteer non-profit SAR network. Unauthorized “Compensation” includes; Travel expenses, Lodging, Equipment, Expense, Permits, Insurance and/or any incurred damages or loss of equipment/UAS including repairs for any damages while engaging in a SWARM SAR volunteer mission.


(* optional)

Any and All mission participation (while representing the SWARM Network) must be approved by a SWARM Officer/Admin PRIOR to participation. Without prior authorization you are acting/performing as a “Good Samaritan” with NO affiliation to SWARM.

SWARM Pilot operators must be 18 years of age or older. Non-Pilot volunteers may join at age 16.

SWARM member pilots flying any approved UAS should be equipped with a minimum of FPV (first person view) and video record capability.

Be of proper legal age (dependent on country) to fly a UAS / Fixed wing aircraft with current certification/credentials (e.g. USA = FAA 107 Remote Pilot Certification or FAA Section 333 COA (Certificate of Waiver or Authorization) to be part of a ICS/LE SAR mission. International members must possess local permits and or certification as required in that country or jurisdiction.

Must be in good health, mentally sound, physically fit for environment, terrain and weather conditions and drug and alcohol-free when operating any UAS or participating on behalf of SWARM.

Adhere and abide by all Mission Specific Guidelines for UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems):

Authorization from SWARM Admin or Officer prior to participation.

SAR Capable UAS (drone or fixed wing) in good working order with not less than 3 total aircraft batteries. *AC Inverter/charger recommended.

SAR capable flight app: DJIGO 4, Litchi, Drone Deploy or other SAR capable software application.

* Ability to charge batteries on the scene. (DC Plug charger, AC inverter, portable AC Generator etc.

UAS must display FAA registration number (or international equivalent) on all aircraft.

UAS capable of capture and record 1080P resolution (or 4K) video and not less than 8 Megapixel Still Photos.

SD/Memory Card/s with not less than combined 128 Gig total storage. *Multiple Micro SD cards, each with 16GB+ / Class 10 UH1.

Additional Supplies including Cell Phone, Food, Water etc.

* Additional Tools Include: UHF TX/RX (Long Range reception)

Stabilizing Camera Gimbal.

* Low Light, FLIR, Thermal or Infra-Red Camera Technology.

* Fully Autonomous Mission Capability, i.e.; “Waypoint” grid missions.

First Aid Kit, Flash Light, Appropriate clothing for conditions.

* Second Person/Helper to act as “Ground/Safety Spotter”

* Secondary Live Video Monitor (for a spotter and/or IC))

* Secondary FPV Goggles (for a spotter and/or IC)

* Head Tracking Camera Capability

* Onboard GPS Tracker (Lost UAS locator i.e.: Marco Polo, Tile etc.)

High Visibility Safety Vest/Clothing

* UAS Strobe Beacon

Pilots should have additional UAS apps to check NFZ, NOTAM, TFRs, WEATHER etc. in the mission area.

All equipment should be pre-flight and post flight inspected and in good working order at all times.

* Pilots should acquire an FAA Sectional Aeronautical Chart (WAC) from their local FAA field office. This chart gives information about airports in your area and the no-fly zones around them. Contact the FAA whenever necessary. This of course can also be done through apps.

* It is highly recommended that all SWARM volunteers carry a basic first aid kit plus cell phone and adequate water/rations for the day.

Pilots are RESTRICTED from flying above 400′ AGL (Above Ground Level). In most situations, 80-125’′ AGL is optimum for identifying persons in or around dense foliage, structures or wooded areas. Clear with SAR IC and/or FAA mission specific COA authorization prior to any flight exceeding 400′ altitude.

SWARM/SAR members will ALWAYS conduct themselves in a professional and courteous manner. We are there to provide aid, continued hope and resolution to a desperate and grieving family.

Flying close, in, above or around groups of people is prohibited. Always launch and land not less than 25′ away from anyone unfamiliar with the operation of UAS. New FAA Rules allows for flying over people and at night only with prior authorization. USA ONLY

Check with the SAR unit IC in charge prior to speaking or commenting to any media or press or news organizations about current mission status, missing person, or UAS operations in progress. In most situations, contact with the media is frowned upon and/or prohibited. In the unavoidable event, you DO speak with the media, never offer “personal opinion” on the current status of the mission, (stick too publicly available facts).

Check-in prior to launch with IC, or officer/s in charge at the scene. NEVER fly without permission to do so. Flying without permission puts the mission, our reputation and professionalism at risk.

When flying a SAR operation, keep a written flight log of time and location that you operated from. This information may be important and required from you by authorities.

Know what your “search/survey area” will be prior to launch. There’s no benefit to searching an area that’s not relevant or has already been searched.

Perform a Compass Calibration on your aircraft. You’re in an entirely new area with new compass parameters.

Check ALL Radio Switches/Toggles to ensure they are in the correct position prior to launch. Avoid launching “Manually” unless you are an experienced pilot with good reason to do so.

Wait for adequate satellites, GPS and Home point lock prior to launch.

Check prop adapters for proper Lock.

Launch from an Open and Unobstructed area. Launching in dense trees or obstacles may prevent a safe RTH/ Return to Home.

When switching out the UAS battery, turn your radio off and back on again before installing a fresh battery. (re-bind)

When flying an unfamiliar area, look for “stand out landmarks” to find your way home again if/when you become disoriented.

* Bring a Spotter/VO (visual observer) with you. That person can assist with ground safety, course navigation, and mission video analysis

Verbally Make your intention to launch loud and clear to all nearby persons prior to take-off.

Fly in GPS mode whenever possible. This ensures that the aircraft will be stable in flight if/when you are distracted on the ground. Flying in Manual Mode allows the aircraft to “drift” potentially into a dangerous situation.

Any and all aerial footage captured/recorded with your aircraft is the Property of the on-scene SAR unit and/or primary family contact. All recorded images should be transferred, copied and made available the same day or within 4 hours of search.

Recorded Images should be thoroughly reviewed for any clues and “targets of interest” same day or Asap.

Multirotor: Once in the air, hover at 8′ to 10′ feet to ensure aircraft flight worthiness.


DO NOT Interfere with any ongoing SAR Operations or assume you have the legal authority to operate a UAS without prior authorization from SWARM Admin, IC and/or Law Enforcement.

DO NOT launch UAS when any manned aircraft are operating within 5 miles.

DO NOT refer to Missing Person in the past tense. i.e.; “Deceased, Victim etc.”. Always respect the continued hope and faith of family and loved ones.

DO NOT Fly in any controlled NAS (airspace), without FAA approval and written waiver.

DO NOT Fly 30 minutes past sunset or prior to sunrise without required authorization or FAA waiver.