Hi all,

I'm looking for an aircraft platform to do some aerial photography from and was hoping that you may have some bright ideas.

I don't mind is it is ready to fly, a kit or just plans (that would actually be better).

Here are the requirements:

  • Has to be able to operate at 6,000 ft in warm weather, take off from 5,000 ft
  • Has to have endurance of at least an hour (45 mins is worst case scenario)
  • Has to be able to deal with wind, once airborne 15-20 knots and 10 knots on the ground.
  • Has to be able to carry a small camera (250g sort of weight)

Fuel source can be electric and gas (not nitro!).

Looking forward to see if anyone can come up with something.

Thanks guys

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Dont know how helpful it will be. but this seems like it will work well for your plans.  They are about the same as mine.  If you get the new upgraded model, would you mind giving me the internal size/space specs?

In warm weather your density altitude will be much higher, I often get 8000' DAs living at 5400'. A bigger problem can actually be standing outside for me, its just too hot for me to be out. Stay away from dark airframes if your in a hot place!

I suggest the Lanyu 100 with a 50cc twin cylinder ( for low vibration) petrol engine would be more suited to your needs than the Mugin.

I found this in the same forum thread - just deeper in.


Still learning... So for my benefit, why?

Why..?   Well now that you ask, I realise I should have asked for more information before I made my recommendation, and then explained my reasoning.

When I saw that Mr Sharp wants to take off from 5000 ft  in a hot climate, where it is difficult to take nitro fuel, I just guessed that he is not in London any more. I imagined a third world country where conditions were not ideal for take off and landing. Manoeuvrability and durability become prime attributes. Because Mr Sharp is asking this question, I guessed that he is not an experienced and expert pilot.

We are flying the Mugin from 2000 ft. With 4.5 kilos on the nose just for  balance, all up weight of 16 kilos, it requires a lot of speed for its lift. The slowest comfortable speed is around 100 km/hr, wide open throttle level flight is about 180 km/hr. This thing uses up the field at a great rate, and I have to work hard to keep up with it. Now, I consider myself an experienced, but ordinary weekend hack pilot of a wide range of nitro planes. We have a perfect 90 metre long, 9 metre wide, artificial strip visitors drool over, and it takes all my skill to get the Mugin down on it safely without running off the end. see http://www.cmac.org.au/about.htm  The plane is well built, but in a manner that makes field repairs difficult. A few rolls of duct tape will just not do. The aluminium tubes are a close fit, and bending one would be hard to patch around. We cannot source spare tubing anywhere - and we have tried. The nose undercarriage is not all that strong, and has such a long moment that it is very vulnerable to not the best landings, or even running into obstacles at take off speed.

Now consider the Lanyu 100. It is advertised to fly with a 35cc petrol motor - a 50cc motor will give plenty of reserve for flying at altitude. The format is more like a trainer, giving more manoeuvrability and a lower landing speed, which, with a taildragger undercarriage, should be a considerable advantage for durability on third world country landing grounds in tricky conditions

My guess is that this aircraft would be more likely to be within Mr Sharp's capabilities. My apologies if I am mistaken, no offence was intended.

Of course!  I would imagine that at that kind of starting altitude, it may also be hard to find enough space to take off from.  Once again hats off for your sound advice and thorough research.  I am currently looking into rigging a short launch/ tail-hook recovery system.  I have had the pleasure of a few full-power combat take-offs and think we can shorten the Mugin's take-off with a wheel track/rail release at full power.  I am also asking around about fabrication of Carbon Kevlar replacement tubing.  I'm pretty sure I can find alum tubing here too, but i don't know the cost yet. And that is a very nice strip!! 

100 cc power to fly a 250 gramme camera? Thats around 8 to 10 horsepower at sea level! (Rule of thumb; engine power loss due to altitude is approx 3% per thousand feet). Should be looking at something hand launched, belly/skid landing, around 4 to 5 lbs weight,with about 1 to 1.5 hp. Attached pics of the sort of thing thats adequate.O.S.32 glow with a 10x6 APC prop, 8 oz fuel at cruise power setting gives 50 minutes duration.Payload GP Hero plus live video to pilots "magic goggles. 10% nitro fuel to 8k ft, 40% nitro at 12k ft. Vid cam under one wing, Vid TX under the other, plus belly cam.

!2 k ft where? On the Siachen Glacier, border of Indian Kashmir and China, to surveil incursions by Chinese troops at the border.(Demos for Indian Army).

You're quite right, Macboffin, but you didn't take note of my user name, did you?

Anyhow, yes, I must apologise and downsize the recommended aircraft somewhat.

You would have to be on top of your game to select  all the components necessary to fly an electric plane at 6000 ft in 10 -20 knot winds for an hour. I would really like some viewer who has actually done this even at 600ft (where I fly) to chime in and tell us what to start with. So, for now, electric is not an option I can advise on. Mr Sharp rules out nitro based fuels, I suppose because of the difficulty of transporting it. That leaves petrol.

The smallest petrol engine that you can just buy and put in a plane is around 30cc. You will need maybe one to one and a half litres of fuel, and batteries for the radio and FPV gear.  For 6000 ft the aircraft needs to be somewhat overpowered.

The aircraft cannot be too light, like a cub, for when it is low on fuel in a 10 - 20 knot wind it would flit around like a leaf. So, intuitively, If I was doing this I would select some shoulder wing trainer in the 80 inch wingspan range with a non-symmetrical air foil, but I don't know the market well enough to recommend any particular one. Nor can I point to any website to show the success of the combination.


17cc gas engine available in UK. But conversion of smaller engines possible, and if extended duration, add a generator to keep batteries topped up. Live video also. Easier to see the field from the plane, than the plane from the field at high altitude. Stable airplane helps, and 3 axis stab also. Depends on what you want to achieve, and what the budget is. Attached, a 10 cc glow engine conversion to "heavy fuel" (ie kerosene) with integrally mounted generator. Used for a small military UAV called Buster produced by one of my old companies, Mission Technologies Inc. Depends on what you want to achieve, and what the budget is!

Parts of Arizona, US start off at 4K ft and go to 7K.  10-20 knots is a slight breeze compared to some of the gusts you can encounter.  Flew in Korea at lower altitudes.  Lost four 3.5 lb birds in 20 knot winds, even when they were weighted down with an extra pound of duct tape.  Those winds will catch a wing and flip the plane and there is not much recovery from that.  I recommended a heavier plane for that reason.  What you want is a heavy body with just barely enough lift in the wings with tons of extra heft in the motor to power through windy conditions. Not the greatest set-up for loitering long term, but that is probably not what you want to do in the conditions you are talking about.  You get a plane that can hold enough fuel (Mugin is the only one I know of...even if you have to beef up the gear and get some carbon rods) and you will be golden.  Make sure flying weight is balanced to a science.  Remember, once the wind catches a wing, you might as well set down the controls and watch the show, because that is when the gusts will come from all the directions that will keep you from recovering. Stab is a must!!!

Air Force Research Lab announced in May a $ 2.2 million award to Elbit and Lockheed Martin for a "Surge V" program. A single person operable 4 hour duration surveillance bird, capable of rough terrain landing, heights up to 25,000 ft, in winds up to 35 knots, temps below 30F, in sand, dust, fog, light rain and snow, high humidity.

   Sounds like a job for a well trained and tough eagle!

Further to my comments above, herewith attached pics of the 17cc engine I mentioned.

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