US pensioner missing for three days located by amateur drone pilot in 20 minutes

82-year-old Alzheimer's sufferer Guillermo DeVenecia was found unharmed

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The Independent Tech

A missing pensioner who had been the target of a three day search by authorities in the US has been located in 20 minutes by an amateur drone pilot.

The 82-year-old Guillermo DeVenecia went missing in Fitchburg, Wisconsin last week, with his family fearing that the Alzheimer’s sufferer could be in danger.

A police search involving dogs and helicopters was launched but it was not until a drone operated by local man David Lesh joined the operation was DeVenecia found, dehydrated but otherwise unharmed, in the middle of a bean field.

Mr Lesh usually uses his craft to make videos for his skiing and snowboarding business in Colorado and was only in Wisconsin to visit his girlfriend’s family. After hearing about the missing man he decided to see if his drone could be of any help.

"As we were making the last turn to fly it, we noticed a man out in the field sort of stumbling, looking a little disoriented,” Mr Lesh told NBC news. “I never thought that I would be using it to find somebody.”

The success may put pressure on aviation authorities in the US to rethink laws limiting the use of drones in search and rescue operations.

The American Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) currently frowns upon any commercial drone use, classifying the aircraft alongside model planes used by hobbyists.

Despite this amateur and commercial drone use is on the rise in both the US and the UK. In the US recently there were clashes between a New York police helicopter and a small drone and in the UK one engineering company is selling small drones to fund a model big enough to ride (aka a hoverbike).