I want to build a fixed wing drone with the longest possible endurance possible. I'm thinking electric pusher(for aerial video) with solar panels and alternator(s) to charge the batteries. I have very little experience in building fixed wings but have extensive experience with multi and single rotors. And also with aerial video/photography. It can be over 55lbs, since im willing to get FAA experimental licencing for it. Im also planing on using an airport hangar so it should be large enough to be seen by small aircraft such as cessnas. The wingspan should also be around 30-40ft. And if we have to go to a gas motor, it would have to be an aviation motor being able to use AA or Jet-A fuel.

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The wingspan should also be around 30-40ft.

the drone is not going to be a 30-40ft wingspan

You can make small modifications to the original request but the fact remains that really the whole premise is flawed, either accept your price expectations are way too low (especially for an electric system) or make some serious specification sacrifices, it's very simple. Choose one.

You won't just barge your way through this problem by being stubborn and saying you will get it done no matter what. More than likely you will just end up poorer with some hefty insurance premiums.

  There are plenty of very smart people here willing to help, happy to help actually, but you just need to put some serious effort in first before asking for advice.

Don't just have a thought bubble and expect others to lay all the hard groundwork for you. Also be willing to accept that sometimes you are wrong. Everyone in this thread commenting has  had ideas that have been wildly wrong numerous times in their lives too, there is no shame in it, really its one of the best ways to learn.


I know im wrong. And i've been wrong many times in this thread. We've gone from a sub-$5000 electric airframe with a 10+ hour range. To an airframe that has around a 20 ft wingspan with most likely a gas motor, and a sub-10hr endurance. And the budget is also been doubled. I'm quite happy to have all criticisms to the project and for you guys to point out the flaws. Thats why i posted this thread here. But people should stop just saying the this will never happen. Because with or without you guys, its going to happen. I would just prefer to have many brains working on this project rather that a few. Because that will save both time and money. 

Fair enough, though I never said it wouldn't happen, just that you need some expectation management. Something has to give.

I've lurked on diydrones for a long time, these extreme requests seem to come up regularly, and to be honest I enjoy them, not because I learn anything useful but more because they have an inspirational quality, it's actually really good to see people out there dreaming big. Someone has to do it. I wish you good luck, but you can't claim that no one warned you about the struggles.

I did not see the comment about doubling the budget earlier.

Something like below is still over but gives you a decent idea of the endurance you could achieve with a well designed airframe:


Not sure why I am chipping in however I have just read the book on the development of the Predator.  The guy that originally designed the aircraft that became the Predator was a model plane enthusiast in free flight and gliders and learned the best way to make a powered glider with long endurance:


General Atomics bought the company he founded when it went bust and the rest is history.  The ultra-long endurance and loiter capability of the Predator made it a unique platform.

The point is Matt it has been done in almost exactly the way you have described.  A highly efficient composite airframe with a small motor and big fuel tanks. 

People are trying to help you, but you've given very little to work with.

Don't be like "I'm going to do it even if you say it can't be done". It can be done, but not in the way you are suggesting. That's what people are saying.

The goal of the project is still very vague to me. At the moment it seems to me that you want to make a large plane and put a camera on it. Why the long endurance requirement?

Let me set two things straight. It doesn't have to be 65+ lbs to get FAA certification. It doesn't have to have 30+ ft wingspan so that other pilots could see it. That's not how it works. You put a transponder on the plane and that's it. I don't see how ground visibility would be an issue. An airport is not like a mall parking lot. No one's going to run your plane over.

At this point, this is a complete joke.  The OP has completely detached himself from reality. Every time it is pointed out that what he wants to do is illegal or impossible, his response is "not for long cause I'm gonna change that".

Look, here comes a flying unicorn.  Maybe it can help you.

If we need to go over $10,000 for the AIRFRAME(i cant stress that the price im giving you guys is for the AIRFRAME ONLY), it is okay, but lets try to stay near that price.

Oh trust me, by this point i know that this project is going to be incredibly difficult. But it will happen. To prove my point i can use self-driving cars. When the first one came out, it was after years of development and it faced massive opposition, but now self-driving cars are safer than their human counterparts and have their own licences. And the Penguin looks good and can do everything i want it to. It looks like it also comes fully built, so that would be where the big price is. But my only concern is it only has a 10ft wingspan.......

No, but when the plane is in airport airspace, the transponder will work, but i also want it large enough so that other pilots can visually see it. That way we just have another layer of safety. I really don't want someone crashing into it and that causing an uproar in the media that ends with all remote control aircraft being grounded. Thats why im saying it should have a large wingspan. 

It has, but just not in the private sector yet. Thats what im trying to do. And thanks for your input. 

The transponder will work everywhere.

A 7 meter wingspan plane is a whole order of magnitude more difficult to operate than 2 or 3 meter plane. Your argument about visibility is not a good one. If you have a transponder the other pilots know where you are. Only the pilots of very slow planes will have time to react once you're plane is in visual range.

You should be more worried about the the damage your 65+ lbs plane will do when it crashes into something. The accident rate of unmanned aircraft is much much higher than for manned aircraft.

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