Lt. j.g. Kyle Salling stood on the bow of a 24-foot boat in Florida Bay, holding what looked like a large model airplane. With the propellers gently whirling, and the small red and green aviation lights on, Sims launched the 13-pound aircraft like he was throwing a javelin.
The remote-controlled Puma AE banked upward into the sky and began heading toward its target, a mangrove island called Pigeon Key about a quarter-mile away in the vast Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
At dusk during a hot Miami summer, when you’re outside getting chewed on by countless mosquitoes, it’s easy to wonder how anyone ever decided to settle in South Florida.
The mosquitoes, in fact, were so bad for some early South Floridians that they had rooms at the front of their frontier shacks called “losers,” which contained smudge pots and palmetto branches to literally “lose” all of the bugs from your body before entering.