6-7 Hour Flight time over ocean - some questions

Hey everyone!  I'm new here but I've been reading/researching around this site and its forums for weeks.  I've learned a lot and tried to read about everything I could before posting my own questions.  But there are some things/ideas I'd love to have some insight on!

Last year I went para-sailing and thought it was awesome how you could see the huge schools of fish, groups on sting rays, etc down in the ocean.  I have a huge interest in marine life!  Once I came across this site, I remembered my para-sailing trip.  I want to build a drone that I could fly over the ocean and look down at everything in the ocean!  I've read posts here by other people talking about flying over the ocean shark hunting/lifeguarding/search and rescue/etc.  But they didn't answer all of my questions and they needed very long flight times.  I want an airplane platform, not a copter.  I read here somewhere that average flight time is around 30 mins.  So,

1)  is a 6-7 flight time possible?  the previous topic I read about ocean flying was a guy wanting 15 hours flight time.  They acted like it was possible, but very difficult.  They told him he would need a plane with about a 16 foot wingspan and 2 gas motors with a gallon tank.  What could I use/what would be best for 6-7 hour flight time?  How big would the plane have to be?

2) is an electric motor completely out of the question for something like this?

3) what size motor(s) would I need/what size gas tank?

4) do they sell kits that are this big?  that are modify-able (to make a UAV)?  Or am I gonna have to build plane from scratch? 

5) will these planes handle beach wind? I haven't really seen this discussed but it can get very windy at the beach.  Last thing I want is a thousand dollar drone crashing into the ocean. 

6) Is it legal? to fly over ocean water at a beach?  Do you have to get some sort of special permission to fly there?  Because there are lots of para-sailing boats around this ocean.  As long as I stay away from them, and stay under certain altitude, can I fly where I want? or does this depend on city?

I want to take pictures of the marine life, but I will get to this/decide how to do this later.   Right now I just want to know if 6-7 hour flight time is possible in wind, what kind of engine/what size plane to use, and if its illegal.

If any of this has been discussed before, and I just couldn't find it, feel free to paste the link.  Thanks!!!!!

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  • 6~7 hours flight time possible if the plane returned back to your boat or base for refuel/battery change and fly again for 6~7 cycle.  Wouldn't that be more feasible.

  • I don't understand the requirement for 6-7 hours flight time : did you fly for 6 hours when para-sailing ? And if the plane can be launched from a boat, can't 1 hour be sufficient to observe the fishes ?

  • You will not do flights for hours over water for 2k unless you have some experience and already have kit. It takes a lot of time and effort as well. Start with 1-2 hours. Plenty of fav plane options in your budget. Time will be the factor--I hope you have lots of it! Definitely a great idea though.
  • TAM was difficult to build because it had to weigh less than 5kg. If a model is allowed to weigh more, it becomes much easier. Shortcomings can be compensated with a larger fuel tank. Easy ... but it will not weigh 5kg. :D


    Flitetest FT SEA DUCK 46USD:



    Start with the two electric motors, 6ch TX/RX and an APM 2.6 = 100USD 

    When everything works... you add telemetry 433Mhz to an old laptop.

    Then GPS.

    Then one things at a time until you understand how everything works.

    Copy drawings to 300% and building a new plane. Add two petrol engines and 10 liter fuel tank. Move over all electronics. Most likely will cost all under the 1000USD.

  • Back in 2011 I did a lot of beach flights using a good ol' Skywalker and APM (and the APM software was tremendously more primitive back then). I flew in wind that made landings almost stationary, flew it overloaded, unbalanced, you name it. The plane handled it all fine, sea wind might be strong and gusty but very laminar. Flying is generally doable in quite strong wind (uncomfortable to be lying around on the beach). Penetrating (decent ground speed) is a different ball game, but if you only want to enjoy the view, who cares.

    If you are not experienced in RC, I would thoroughly suggest getting familiar with a cheap model like that first. The expensive bit are the electronics which you will transfer to your next plane, the vehicle itself (plus servos and motor) is cheap (and you can always keep it as backup, my Skywalker has crashed full speed into a rock, had a wing broken after hitting a tree, still flies).

    Landing in the water is doable, there are seaplanes like the Icon A5 for example. I have tried it and works very well but have not put an autopilot inside it. No idea about endurance and performance but if your only consideration is landing, you can waterproof a normal foamie enough to handle a reasonably smooth water landing (seaplanes are typically engineered for also taking off and manoeuvring in the water, this gives them a performance penalty in the air).

    Battery powered foamies can give you flight times of around 1 hour with mid range, off the shelf components. Battery powered but expensive electrics will give you a few hours depending on usage and budget. For 6-7 hours, you will likely need gas or some wicked engineering bordering on the legendary if considering electric power. On the other hand, 6-7 hours is a LONG time. I would get my hands dirty on the cheap, 1 hour-ish type vehicles first before considering spending the big money.

    Skywalker 1680 V6-Wingspan 1720mm (KIT)
    Skywalker 1680 V6-Wingspan 1720mm (KIT)
  • 300km

    7 hours is definitely possible


  • Moderator

    We did some experiments with polarized cameras on the TV Show DRONED for the science channel.  I don't think the full versions are available to stream or download yet, but the Episodes were called Waterworld and Swimming with Sharks.

    You can find previews of the shows here:  http://www.sciencechannel.com/tv-shows/droned/droned-videos/

    We didn't do any long range flying on the show, but the Skywalker X8 that appears on the show actually completed on 66 mile flight over the water between Fort Lauderdale and Miami in August 2015.  

    We were surprised at how quickly we were able to get results with a camera and polarized lens.  Right away I found that still photos worked much better than video.  It was amazingly easy to see fish (and a diver) in the water.  

    If this is something you are planning on pursuing, please contact me.  I might have a lot of information I can share.

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3btsAOIDENE

    David C Phillips said:

    You should just go with an hour or two. 

    If a glider will work that would stay up longer. The wind usually blows into the beach. You don't want to get downwind with it.

    Flying wing electric would be great for at least an hour maybe two if your just floating around.

    Look at the Hercules XL.  https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&sou...

  • You should just go with an hour or two. 

    If a glider will work that would stay up longer. The wind usually blows into the beach. You don't want to get downwind with it.

    Flying wing electric would be great for at least an hour maybe two if your just floating around.

    Look at the Hercules XL.  https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&sou...

    78" Hercules Wind Surfing
    FANTASTIC FLYING ... 78" Hercules Gentle Giant with a 12" insert giving it a blunt nose for FPV/AP. Wind was 8-11 MPH with gusts and the HERC handled…
  • We have an electric helicopter, Auto pilot, GPS. Air Sonar, Radiometric LW Infrared and Visible Cameras, 8 rotors counter rotating and we have flow it for 45 minutes and are working on 1.5 hours. www.infraredcamerasinc.com

    We built it out of necessity. Gary Strahan gary@ici1.com

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