Drones could be used to help save people who are lost, missing or injured in the hills around Arrochar and Loch Lomond.

A new search and rescue association says the use of drones are the biggest breakthrough in mountain rescue since search dogs were introduced in the 60s.

Search and Rescue Aerial Association Scotland (SARAA-Scotland) will use the drones to find people in the most inaccessible places.

The association’s volunteers will undergo special training to fly the drones by York-based Flyby Technology which only has instructors who are ex-military or are civilian aviation instructors.

Scottish Mountain Rescue has carried out a feasibility study to look at how drones – which are also known as Small Unmanned Aircraft or SUAs for short – could help in search and rescue operations.

There was a clear need for them and SARAA-Scotland now has one drone that is operational and hopes to have another five in action by early next year.

A top quality drone would cost £30,000 including a thermal camera and the latest high technology zoom camera – but at the moment SARAA-Scotland is aiming to get more of the middle-cost drones to cover as much of the country as they can and the one they are using now was bought for £3,500.

The team’s aim is to eventually provide cover for most of Scotland.

SARAA-Scotland’s trained operator is Tom Nash who served 15 years in the RAF as a Tornado navigator operating thermal cameras, targeting systems and weapons.

He said volunteers will be trained to the very latest rules and regulations.

SARAA-Scotland, which is affiliated to Scottish Mountain Rescue, has now put in grant applications in a bid to buy more drones but is on the lookout for businesses or individuals to sponsor them.

Its chairman, Dave Wright, said: “We will be recruiting people to fly the drones who are already mountain rescue team members – people with a search and rescue background who can look after themselves out there.

“It’s now a case of getting the funds to buy the kit we need, distribute it and train the members and at the start of next year it’s hoped we will have six pilots being trained by Flyby.”