Posts Tagged ‘search and rescue


Way To Go Chris!!!!

Group aids search efforts to bring closure for families

South Park-based nonprofit organization VIASAR analyzes aerial photographs to help recover bodies.

Staff Writer

Sunday, April 20, 2008

When a fisherman off the coast of Maine went overboard last fall and his empty boat was discovered later in a cove, search-and-rescue teams exhausted their efforts trying to find the man’s body.

That’s when volunteers pitched in, including a team of imagery analysts and engineers from the Dayton area, to renew the search with aerial photographs. The high-resolution photos were sent to Chris Rowley, Kevin Culli and John DeWeese, all Dayton area defense contractors, who then put to civilian use their many years of experience analyzing military surveillance images.

Rowley, 41, was inspired to organize VIASAR — Volunteer Imagery Analysts for Search and Rescue — a year ago after he assisted in the search for the body of his cousin’s 17-year-old son, who had fallen from a bridge into Maine’s Penobscot Bay.

Giving closure to grieving families is the organization’s goal.

With recent advances in computer imaging and high-resolution photography, Rowley says it’s time to bring search-and-rescue operations into the digital age.

“Very few are using aircraft, and even fewer aerial photographs,” he said.

While observers in planes can often miss details, digital photographs can be taken from planes over wide areas, then sent to computers anywhere in the world, where analysts can magnify, enhance and inspect the images with trained eyes.

For now, VIASAR is based in the attic office of Rowley’s South Park home, where he uses his dual-screen computer to coordinate the work of 15 image analysts here, across the country and in Germany. But he has high hopes of growing the nonprofit organization into an international network of hundreds of volunteer analysts using the latest imaging and analysis equipment.

Rowley says his group would like to gain access to fiber optic lines that would speed their work, allowing them to distribute photos for analysis in minutes rather than hours. Down the road, they also might be able to operate Unmanned Airborne Vehicles for taking their own photos. Currently, they must rely on volunteer photographers including those at the Down East Medical Institute in Maine.

Rowley, who has dedicated VIASAR to the memory of his cousin’s son, is upbeat about its future. “These things will come, as long as we are vigilant.”



If you want to know more, or donate to help VIASAR grow, visit:

Jake and Jackson

my boys

RSS esrati

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

RSS Lucinda Williams

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.


live in Dayton, Ohio, in an historic neighborhood called South Park. have some of the wackiest friends and neighbors that I wouldn't change for the world

old rants/opinions/pontifications