Published: Aug. 5, 2015

We've gotten into the air! Thankfully, the weather cooperated today and we ended up with some gorgeous flying weather. Blue skies, calm winds, and no mosquitoes make flight operations a breeze, and were very much appreciated after the past two days of rain, wind and fog. We managed to get approximately 10 short flights across 5 planes, but unfortunately, that was all. An issue with the autopilot caused the pitot/static system to become unresponsive and freeze displaying the last recorded airspeed. Typically, this was accompanied with a descending spiral with increasing throttle as the autopilot attempted to maintain the commanded airspeed. This, by itself, is enough to force us to fly the aircraft exclusively where human pilots can see it well enough to fly it out of danger, but very often the pitot error was accompanied by a complete and total loss of control, both through the groundstation and RC override. This does not result in a very pretty arrival with the ground, and unluckily, it had to happen more than once to show that it was a problem present on all craft. At one point, only 2 out of a total of 7 aircraft remained airworthy, but because of its superior design and construction, the DataHawk is frightfully tough. Thanks to that, we'll be starting tomorrow with 5 of 7 operational, and the prognosis good for the other two. 


As for the autopilot issues: we have the very best SUAS minds this side of the Brooks Range working deep into the night in hot pursuit of the problem. Besides, what fun is it without a good challenge?


Bear from long range There's a bear in the air!Nate flying a DataHawk Nate piloting the DataHawkGijs watching a DataHawk fly-by Gijs watching the DataHawk fly over