Dro' Rida



Years ago I had run across this old post from rec.aviation.military, "Weird question":


From: Mary Shafer <shafer@reseng.dfrc.nasa.gov>
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.military
Subject: Re: Weird question: Date: 08 Apr 1998 11:56:55 -0700
"Zorak" <someone@somewhere.net> writes:
> I have a weird question: has anyone attempted to convert a cruise missile
> like the tomahawk into a piloted aircraft? (without the warhead, of course!)
> I think I remember hearing once that some woman had a piloted version of the
> tomahawk.

In 1993 two employees of Scaled Composites reported on "Manned Test
Flight of an Unmanned Air Vehicle" at the SETP Symposium. However,
they didn't get a written version into the Proceedings, so that's
about all I can say specifically. The general technique involved
adding a very limited instrument panel and pilot controls, with the
pilot straddling the vehicle, I think somewhere near the cg. I
believe they provided a backrest and foot pegs for pilot stability.
Shades of Slim Pickins, which is what came to everyone's mind
immediately on seeing the picture pf the pilot riding the vehicle.

Regarding the identity of the vehicle, all I can say for sure is that
it wasn't a Tomahawk. I don't remember what it was and don't think it
was a cruise missile anyway.
Mary Shafer NASA Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, CA
SR-71 Flying Qualities Lead Engineer Of course I don't speak for NASA
sha...@reseng.dfrc.nasa.gov DoD #362 KotFR
URL http://www.dfrc.nasa.gov/People/Shafer/mary.html
For personal messages, please use sha...@ursa-major.spdcc.com

It took me a while, but eventually I was able to acquire a photo of the flight in question through a well-placed contact.

Apparently this Raptor drone later crashed.

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  • Awesome photos, Chris, I love that they saved the part of the fuselage with the stirrups.

    They still build optionally manned aircraft, but they have modern conveniences like cockpits: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wallofhair/8451821397/in/set-721576327...

  • 3D Robotics

    John, the 3DR team got to see the real thing when we visited Scaled Composites. Here are the pics (scroll down for this one).

  • @Gary -- You got it right re. Hanna Reitsch.  I appreciate the correction.


  • I'm glad they clarified it was not a Tomahawk. I don't know what the Vs0 of a tomahawk is, but I don't think much thought was put into that aspect of the design! 

  • The Reichenberg I believe, From what I could find out she actually did fly and successfully land this thing.

    Quite a few people flew it, but to the best of my understanding she may have survived the only truly successful landing (at 120mph).

    It was a research craft, but the stabilization problem she is credited with solving in the movie had already been solved much earlier by other means considerably prior to her flight. She just figured out how to land it -> Fast.

  • 100KM
    Lol I've had that picture in my gallery for years http://diydrones.com/photo/705844:Photo:37150?context=user check out the comments more info on it.
  • The reference to a woman piloting a Tomahawk reminded me of Hanna Reitsch supposedly flying a piloted version of the German V1 Buzz Bomb (basically an early cruise missile).  I wonder if that was actually the intended reference.  I saw the movie that depicted this flight, but apparently she never did fly the piloted version.  In any case, here's another example of a pilot put in an otherwise pilotless aircraft:


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