img_1880In 2013 I founded the SWARM network. S.W.A.R.M. is an acronym for Search With Aerial RC Multirotor. The SWARM network is a worldwide organization of over 6000 (2017) all volunteer drone pilots who are “Mission Ready” to aid in the search for missing persons in their communities.

Jim BowersI was inspired to create a drone search and rescue organization when I was asked to assist in the search for a local Colfax California man, (Eric Garcia) who had gone missing in November of 2013. Prior to that, my only passion was to use UAVs and on-board cameras to capture and photograph my Art and video documentaries. With some uncertainty as to whether I could even be helpful, I agreed to help. Over a four day period, I flew my DJI Drone over 40 miles of roadway where the victim “might” have driven on his way from Rancho Murrieta California, back to Colfax. After the fourth day, and no discovery, we were able to convince the Placer County Sheriffs Dept. to restart their search for One more day where they would take a close look at the last 12 mile stretch that I wasn’t able to search. Sheriffs off road motorcycles discovered Garcias automobile crashed over a steep embankment along I-80 during a previous heavy snow storm. While Garcia was deceased, the family of Eric was incredibly grateful for my efforts and explained how my drone and dedication helped to give them a new sense of hope and FAITH that their loved one would be found.

This incident moved me SO MUCH emotionally, that I knew I had to do SOMETHING for not only other families of lost loved ones, but to also dedicate this new organization to the memory of Eric Garcia.

In 2014, with profits from my annual Fire&Steel Festival, we planted over 5000 daffodils along the I-80 off ramp, on the westbound side in Colfax. These bright yellow flowers bloom every spring, keeping the memory of Eric Garcia in the hearts and minds of everyone.

Check out the SWARM network HERE. Read our Standard Operating procedures (SOP), then click the Facebook link to join our online volunteer forum.