Arizona Teen Finds Lost Pets Using Drone Technology


Combine an entrepreneurial Phoenix-area teenager with an FAR Part 107 drone operator’s license and the result is a lot of happy—and relieved—pet owners.

The story, as reported by a local television affiliate, goes back two years to when Maxence Pastore thought he could use his recreational drone to help find a missing cat he saw on a posted flyer. Two years later, with his commercial drone operator’s license in hand, Pastore is in business. “I save[d] up to get a more capable drone and that’s how I started,” he said. His company is called TRACC Pet Recovery, and it helps people in his area find their lost pets.

Pastore said he does most of his best work at night. “I don’t normally do my searches during the day because it’s so hot. What I’ll do is, I’ll get this one up in the sky at nighttime, and it has a thermal camera, so I’ll look for any heat signatures, like cats, dogs, anything moving, really.” TRACC Pet Recovery has already been successful at reuniting pets with their owners. “Once they realize that their dog [or cat] has been found, they get super emotional, and of course, happy,” he said.

Pastore has aspirations for expanding his business to include searches for humans. He told reporters, “I applied for some search and rescue groups. This drone is actually used by public safety for search and rescue, for the fire department and police. So I wanted to volunteer and help. But I’m just too young,” he said.

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Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.


  1. Maxence Pastore’s story is inspiring, showing his entrepreneurial spirit and dedication to helping others. Good young man.

  2. most personal pets are chipped in decent neighborhoods these days and I wonder how close the drone would have to get to scan one. That would be a positive ID of which images are random nocturnal activity and which is the target animal

  3. AirTag collar setup and installation would make a great addition to this kid’s services.

    • Unfortunately AirTags don’t have the best connection, one of my recent flights was based off the location of an AirTag, and the dog was way off, and located deceased.

  4. ‘too young?


    SAR groups do need him.
    Those in SW BC do have capability with UAVs and helos.

    Don’t always succeed – bodies of three climbers just recovered from mountainous area of northern Vancouver Island, several weeks after they were missed.

    Weather for air or ground search was a factor, including new snow. Besides thermal sensors, which police helicopter from Comox should have, as well as the big military SAR machines from there, many hours of video from helos were analyzed.

    I saw the police helo from Comox scanning the side of a waterway looking for an elderly person who did not return from her morning walk. Was visiting relatives near the waterway, had lived near there, but apparently got confused (perhaps because of new roads).

    Fortunately she was found the next day outside of the area people searched, morning walkers heard her cry for help – she’d huddle on the other side of a berm, heard them walking. I hope she purchased a tracking device, some are used by residences for persons with dementia. I recommend them for hikers, with SATCOM capability. (Which yApple iPhones may now have for emergency.)

  5. My correction to my post about not finding three mountain climbers is shown as ‘awaiting moderation’ – so there is some checking, though nothing in that post of concern.

  6. I think it’s great that he is able to reunite pets with their owners, but this does bring up some interesting privacy issues. I’m not thrilled with the prospect of someone flying a drone over my house at night with a thermal imaging camera looking down at me to confirm whether I’m a cat or a dog. What if I’m in my pool, sans bathing suit? Isn’t that an invasion of my privacy, not to mention that it would probably scar the kid for life. Am I worrying too much? Should I build an indoor pool, or just buy a bathing suit?

    • Thermal camera is not going to see much difference whether you are wearing a bathing suit or not.
      Plus re:privacy how is it really any different whether it is a drone with a small camera vs. a helicopter carrying a much better camera flying over your backyard?

      • Agreed! Thanks. I don’t search peoples yards either, I’ve only had one instance where I saw a dog in a yard, and even then I refused to zoom in or invade on any privacy.

    • Hey, I can assure you that I’m not invading privacy. Just simply helping the community with my drone 🙂

      Sorry if you feel that I’d be invading privacy by searching parks and desert areas.