Digital first with Sandhills Aviation

March 8, 2022

The more we know, the better prepared we can be. Our team loves hearing about how data can help improve our decision making and further our knowledge, whether this be in everyday life, or in our places of work.

We had the opportunity to speak with Steven Sherwood from Sandhills Aviation, where they provide accessible data as a service for businesses to utilise and take advantage of.

Leading with digital data

Sandhills Aviation provides aviation solutions for geospatial companies. They help provide geographical data in a digital format, to improve various projects that companies around the world undertake, for surveying, logistics, aircraft maintenance, and greater insights for pilots and crew. Their presence spans across the entire United States and Canada, where they map large areas for government agencies, as well as across pipelines, solar mapping, and electric grids.

 The team operates a fleet of Cessna 172’s and Piper Aztecs that are modified to house a wide variety of sophisticated camera equipment.

Sandhills Aviation fleet of aircraft

“Aviation fell in my lap!”

Sherwood has had a worldly view ever since college, with a keen interest in geography, and his studies led in him the direction toward aircraft systems management. Since then, he’s never looked back.

“My first job involved mapping the ground with aircraft. I continued studying, received my Master’s and am working towards a PhD in remote sensing imagery. Our customers wanted us to start our own business and work for them, so I shifted gears and that’s where we’re at today.”

Move like ants

The cockpit for Sherwood has been a familiar sight since 2007, flying commercially in single and twin engine piston aircraft. With his vast experience, he has a wider view and is able to understand all aspects of flying.

Sherwood utilises Spidertracks’ real-time tracking functionality, giving him the ability to see how their team is flying, at a glance, and inform them when situations change in real-time.

 “One example is when one of our newer pilots was trying to fly from Phoenix, Arizona, and I wanted him to fly around the mountains. I saw him starting to fly toward the mountains where convective weather had started to develop. I quickly took a screenshot of the weather, and messaged him through the Spidertracks texting function to inform him of the changes happening in real-time. It is great to be able to see and know that information, aircraft safety is of number one important for us.”

Sandhills Aviation Insights dashboard
“It’s also great to have the ability to read the reports at the end of the day to see how they did. But it's nice to be able to just watch them move like ants, seeing all the activity going on, being able to click on the aircraft and get the information regarding their flight in real-time and doing the stuff that they're supposed to do!”

Embrace change, safety is priceless.

Sherwood sums this up nicely.

“Don’t get complacent, embrace new technologies and use them as valuable tools, and step away from the old school aviation mentality of, ‘It’s okay to just trust my gut, I’m a trained pilot.’ It’s not.”

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