• Airport dog helps with runway safety

    By: USA Today

    Updated:

    Guess what a mowing crew found in airfield grass last week at Southwest Florida International Airport:

    A golf shoe? Nope.

    A trinket from a visit by Vice President Mike Pence? Nah.

    They found two GoPro cameras and a harness.

    The mystery was solved quickly and has a happy ending.

    Echo, the airport’s border collie, ditched the cameras nearly 11 months ago.

    The video footage on them is A-OK.

    Be sure to check out the video. But here's the rest of the story:

    Echo spots, stalks and chases birds away from the airport's runways and taxiways.

    Last June, The News-Press photojournalist Andrea Melendez and I watched her and Operations Officer Samantha Hunter in action, for a story.

    (Here's our old story: RSW airport border collie herds birds off the airfield, for everyone's safety)

    Desiring a dog’s-eye view of the bird patrol, Melendez strapped the GoPros snugly to Echo.

    Or so we thought.

    On Hunter's command, Echo bounded through the knee-high wet grass — so quickly, we soon lost sight of her.

    The GoPros were gone when Echo reappeared.

    We slogged through the field with the airport folks, with no luck.

    Until last week.

    An airport operations agent recalled hearing that a news team had lost some GoPros outdoors and alerted airport spokeswoman Victoria Moreland.

    GoPros have a reputation for toughness, but consider:

    These two went through Hurricane Irma.

    They weathered our wettest rainy season on record: nearly 80 inches.

    Miraculously, the big mowers didn't mash them.

    The straps show signs of little bite marks — or  light grazing from the mowing gear. We’re not sure.

    Lessons learned?

    The camera loves border collies, but the feeling may not be mutual.

    Never give up on a lost GoPro.

     

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