Finally got to fly in restricted airspace!

We finally got to take our helicopter into restricted airspace a couple weeks ago, where our pilot got out of the cockpit for the first time! (We always fly with a pilot onboard when operating in normal airspace) This video shows formation flight, sideways flight, and landing and takeoff on a moving platform. Later flights we did a 5 mile out and back and some endurance tests. Must admit I was nervous on the first liftoff without our safety pilot onboard, but everything went smoothly!

E-mail me when people leave their comments –

You need to be a member of diydrones to add comments!

Join diydrones


  • Developer


    Looking great.  I see you have 4 physical button like things on the skids to detect the landings.

  • @John, The FAA announced earlier this year that military controlled airspace could not be used by commercial UAV operators anymore. ( ) The guys where we fly unmanned were not happy about it at all, and had to boot out several companies that had been using the airspace for years. Our customer for the helicopter in the video is the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), so we were still allowed access but only because we had a government customer. If Amazon bought the first one instead, we would have been scrambling looking for a new test range. 

    Our goal is to provide an off-the-shelf autonomous platform for applications that require a heavier payload or longer endurance. We're a private company, so anyone who wants to buy one from us can do so :-) 

  • Rotor brake?  Interesting, that's actually something I have thought about doing for safety.

    The 800 gasser at this point is a test bed to show that Pixhawk can control a gas heli, which I have done.  I do want to develop gas powered helicopters for various use-cases.  700-800 gas would make an excellent long-duration, 5-10kg payload machine for advanced mapping with larger cameras, LIDAR, etc.  And then 1.5-2m class could be used for agricultural spraying.  I could even build a small 500 size machine for light duty mapping that could fly for over an hour.

  • Yeah, the legal aspects were very challenging. The FAA is even making it harder to fly in restricted air space!

    My experience with the Volz servos has been excellent! There's one on the big helicopter that actuates the rotor brake. The customer support has been super responsive whenever we needed info or help. My guess is that the price point is not appealing for hobby applications, the ones we use are about $1,000/each. The size you are looking at would be cheaper, I think in the $350-$400 range, but I'm not positive about that.

    800 gasser, eh? Sounds fun, what's your plan with that?

  • Congratulations!  Nice flight, fun and exciting video to watch, and good music. Can you say any more about the restricted airspace and what your program is and what the goals are?

  • Hi Phillip, great work.  Not just a technical achievement, but a legal one getting this done in the US. :)  Congrats.  So is that doing automatic target tracking?

    Quick question, IIRC, on the smaller version you brought to AVC in 2013, I think you were using Voltz servo on that correct?  What has been your experience with these?  They seem to be what everybody is using for professional UAV's.   Do you know what the pricing is like for the 20x40 hobby-size ones?  I'm trying to figure out which servos I should use on my 800 gasser.  Currently looking at the JR MPH83S which is brushless and hall-sensor, so no brushes or pots to wear out.  But I'm wondering if the Voltz are worth looking at.

This reply was deleted.