Pilots one step closer to realizing his drone radar invention

DENVER (KMGH) — Hobbyists and commercial drone operations are only getting more complex when it comes to airspace. This means it becomes more dangerous for airplane pilots, especially near busy airports.

Rick Zelenka, a private pilot, has spent years perfecting his drone radar system to combat this problem.

“He spots a drone and identifies it,” Zelenka explained. “Then that information is shared on the ground. Then it’s shared with other pilots in the sky.”

Zelenka won a NASA-funded contract to develop the lightweight radar system that can be installed in an aircraft. The prototype has just been tested in Colorado.

Veteran pilot Randy Settergren was at the controls.

“It’s refreshing to be able to see that there’s technology coming our way,” Settergren said. “You never know where a drone is these days. Drone technology is changing so rapidly. It’s making these high-performance drones and getting them into the hands of people without formal training.”

On Zelenka’s website there is a list of incidents where planes hit drones.

“My main goal is to increase security and get ahead of this problem,” Zelenka said.

Testing the prototype in the skies of Colorado was a success, but Zelenka said there is still a lot of work to do before his system hits the market.

“We’re hoping to expand the range and fix the display a bit,” he said.

This story was first reported by Eric Lupher on