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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  • Moderator

    TAM was not carrying a payload, it was also flying downwind most of the way. It was excellent though.

  • If you are looking for endurance flight of an automated model aircraft, you absolutely should check out Maynard Hill's TAM 5. The TAM 5 crossed the Atlantic ocean in over 38 hours with about a gallon of fuel. They used a OS .61 retrofitted for gasoline use. They designed an alternator to generate electric power for the rest of the plane. I may be wrong, but I believe they only used a gyroscope to stabilize the thing. Definitely inspiring. 

    I doubt you would have to spend over a $1000 dollars on the airframe of the TAM...

    I have been looking at using a dynaflite butterfly for an endurance drone. It has a 8 foot wingspan and can be run with a .10 - .20 OS Engine. I figured you wanted a plane that needed/consumed very little energy to fly. http://www.dynaflite.com/airplanes/gpma0090.html

    I believe there was a yellow drone that a tuna fishing boat may have been using to spot tuna/fish at different locations. I have definitely seen videos of drones landing in the water and then running their various sensors. Let me know what you find, and keep us posted on your build!

  • I think you be looking at spending a lot more than $1000 for the airframe.
    To get to this level would costs 10's maybe even hundreds of thousands of dollars and thousands of hours of build and development time.

    There is nothing off the shelf available that can do more than about 2 or 3 hours.

    it would be cheasper to use a boat to get to the target area and launch / land from the boat with a cheaper 1 hour duration drone.

    1 hour is easy and cheap with battery technology,

  • I have been looking into extended flight times as well, but not at the beach. Diesel or gasoline seems to be the only approaches that are feasible. Batteries for flight times as you have brought up are not even likely to be enough for controls, a generator will very likely be needed. I have been unable to find an existing platform I would want(but some could be adopted), and plan on designing and scratch building if I peruse this.

    I would expect that a 6-7 hour flight will be very taxing on you personally(physically, mentally). To expect to do this in the same airspace as other people, aircraft, etc. without any means of organization might be asking too much. Flying off-shore from a boat might get far enough away from others to allow short term unintended periods. Are you an accomplished R/C pilot? Take off and landing from water with the winds you reminded us of could be quite challenging. 

    You may be much better to look into watercraft that "hover" or "float" above the water at speed. I have been approached about helping design one of these. I guess they are gaining popularity in other parts of the world do to the lack of needing any pilot licenses. The idea being it is a boat, which hops out of the water like any other boat at speed. The specifics of the design allow it to "fly" on ground effects not lift. As such it cannot gather any reasonable altitude to be considered an aircraft. Obviously not as efficient as a true airplane, but much better than a copter, ohh and extremely competent in and over water. Only issue is I cannot think of any scale models for these type vehicles.

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