Autonomous 52km/32mi Cross Country Flight

Mission accomplished!

The objective was to fly 43km cross country (take off in one location and land in another) and prove that this kind of long range endurance / autonomous flight / chase car was possible.

The first take off was pretty rough, the cold reduced the bungee's pulling power and impaired my ability to feel the bungee's tension. It skidded on the ground and nearly destroyed the prop.

After reattaching the prop, I took it off and tested it manual mode. It passed my stress test, so I set it on it's mission.

It flew perfectly the entire trip, and covered 52km. We landed it in a remote field a few miles south of Joplin, Missouri.

See you next week!


Flight Stats:
Ground Covered: 52.2km/32.4mi
Duration: 37.5 min
Watt Hours: 89.4 (8.1Ah at 11.1v)
Avg Amp Draw: 12.9A
Avg Ground Speed: 83.6kph/52.0mph
Efficiency: 584m/Wh or 6.5km/Ah or 154mah/Km
Max altitude AGL: 122m
Max ground speed: 61mph
Max distance from ground station: 311m/0.2mi

Safety note: I maintained line of sight during this flight, and had my controller close by to take manual control as needed. The altitude read over 120m, but elevation increased during flight. True AGL for the flight is 100-120m. I avoided all airports and populated areas.

Raptor 140b Stats:
Weight: 1780g
Max Flight Time: 50min
Max Range: 50km
Stall Speed: 30kph
Cruise Speed: 100kph
Max Speed: 135kph
Radio Range: 1.5km
Energy Carried: 111wh (10,000mAh at 11.1v)
Drive Power: 850w

The equipment used---
Raptor 140 airplane:

Radio Tx: ParkeFlyer Turnigy 9x Tx:
Telemtry: 915mhz 100mW 3DR
Laptop: Compaq Presario CG57
GPS Dongle:

Flight Controller: APM2.6
Reciever: 6ch FlySky
Telemtry: 915mhz 100mW 3DR
Battery: (2) 5.0Ah 20C Turnigy Lipo:
ESC: 60A Brushless
Motor: 3542 1450kv brushless
Prop: 10x7 Carbon Fiber Folding
Servos: 11g digital
Onboard camera:

Learn More:
Raptor Details:
USA Trip Details:

Follow the Show:
Skype: MyGeekShow

Filmed, Edited, Produced and Published by Trent in Arkansas, USA

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  • Congrats !

  • Marius: That you for watching! You had to stay up late! I've been thinking about that FPV/Telem video stream. I haven't come up with solution yet, but it would be very cool if I could get that for the next flight.

    Wesley: I used the mission planner to see what the elevation was during the flight and manually updated the waypoints to maintain 120m AGL. The GPS was there to assist us in keeping close proximity to the airplane. I'm pretty sure that follow me wouldn't increase automatically as it is right now, but that would be an interesting feature! I'll find out soon, I'll be testing in the next week or so.

    Crashpilot1000: Yes, landing locations are being selected, including target, early land due to head winds, and emergency locations. I laughed pretty hard at your animal experiences! I've had hawks chase my stuff, but never any experiences with land creatures.

    R_Lefebvre: Thank you! We have an awesome community here, I want to build and protect it.

  • Trent, congratulations on meeting your goals!  And thank you for sharing your progress, and being safe and responsible along the way.

  • Yes, I think a cross countryflight has to be carefully planned especially concerning alternative landing locations / and / or emergency landing locations. Places with animals can be problematic since most will accept your model with interest but not you. Here is a funny summary of my encounters of the 3rd kind:

    Ducks: Leave the water and walk over to your place where you hover the copter and watch it's hard to scare them off - maybe not attracted by planes.

    Cats: Will start to eat your landed gear (esp. propellers seem to be tasty)

    Dogs: Will chase and jump for your equipment and tinkle all over it when landed + bark.

    Cows: Will gather immediately at the landing site and start licking the camera, stumping your model and "mooooo". Bulls will start chasing you when approaching the landing site.

    No more animals tested so far.

  • 100KM

    Wow! Congratulations! Well done!

    I'm wondering about the altitude increase? Was the Raptor pre loaded with waypoints or did you use the follow me mode (why the GPS on the cars roof?).

    This question could be related, or not - does follow me automatically increase height as the ground station increases height?

  • I watched it live from Australia. Very entertaining, some drama at the start and a happy ending. It could not have been "scripted" better. My only suggestion would be if you could get the FPV feed from the raptor integrated into the stream as well (although this will be tricky).

    Looking forward to the next episode. Thanks, Marius

  • Thank you Gary! It was so much fun! I was literally smiling for hours after landing...

  • Moderator

    As ever well done Trent.

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