Where to Start???

Hi,I'm new here, but have had an interest in this for a few years, but never really known where to start.My objective is to produce an air craft that could essentially fly non stop for an indefinite period of time.I am not looking to take pictures, although it would be a nice addition.There are a few questions, the major one being what sort af air-craft design would be ideal for this project?In my teens i build a few R/C aircraft, so i'm not 100% new to that part. What does concern me thoguh is that it must of course be able to fly powerless, be as light as possible (to reduce power requirements), be able to support a limited number of solar cells (most likely in the wing surfaces).It must also be able to house a GPS reciever and small computer of some sort.GPS isn't a problem, that sort of thing can come from eBay for less than £20, and a miniature motherboard isn't too expensive.basically, do anyone have any ideas on the hardware side?Again, i have worked for years in Software development, so i am happy to write the AI for it (i would prefer it learn't to fly rather than follow pre-set rules...again i once worked on some software to emulate the flocking behaviour of birds, and how to reduce it to need-based goal seeking, so thereby working towards what i am after!)Basically, any thoughts people might have would be really good!

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  • The longest flight was 48 hours by a solar/LiS powered plane. Though many battery breakthroughs happened since that first $1.20 spike in gas prices, what U can really buy is still pretty obsolete.
  • OK, well firstly thanks to everyone for replying, it was always a strange thread, but it's really good to hear a few opinions!

    Firstly i must agree with macbofin, no, you certainly don't want to meet ANYTHING in the air! big legal issues there....

    JC: The dynamic soaring looks really interesting. I'd never heard of that, i think i will have to read up a little more and see if there is any way of detecting potential airflows and attemting to use them for power generation.

    Earl Jr: big certainly does mean efficient, but i'm not looking to make any vehicle capable of carrying much, litterally the ability for it to fly would be enough! Would the weight of solar panels be acceptable in such an endurance type situation? I wouldn't want to get in to a situation like heinlens rocket!

    I remember when i was a kid i built an autogyro (small R/C one, but the principal works!). They work on the principal that forward motion (air wise) causes the rotor to spin, providing lift. The rotor is unpowered and needs surprisingly low forward speed to generate some lift. Anyone got any experience of this? it seems to me this would essentially reduce the power requirement...
  • In regards to the airframe, I would be inclined to use a flying wing design, as you would be able to cover nearly the entire top surface with solar panels. This, combined with a large, fairly low speed prop would go a long ways towards an indefinite flight.
  • nothing is indefinite but you can get better result if you make a solar power uav which can charge for 12 hours and next 12 hours fly on charging batteries
  • no comments on this?

    Shame, i thought this would be a real test of what was possible!
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