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!

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  • Yup. We've got a checklist to make sure everything is armed. Then, one button at the ground control station launches the engine start sequence and engages the rotors. (it can be one-touch to takeoff, but typically I verify some of the temperature and pressure gauges prior to takeoff)

    so you noticed the duct tape! That was a last second thing. The auto/manual switch never flipped by itself while the pilot was onboard, but the duct tape made us feel a little better anyway. 

  • T3

    Looking good! I can't wait for the ship demo.

    Small companies know how to get things done without a committee:

    Master, on.

    Fuel pump, on.

    Throttle, idle.

    Engine, start.

    A/P switch, on.

    Pilot, remove.

    Duct tape over A/P switch, check.

    Ready for flight.

  • The vibration damping... well it's a custom solution, and is somewhat proprietary.

    Yeah, Bergen's continued use of mechanical mixing is...  let's just say I'm not a fan at all.  I would have thought it was possible to set it up though.  I did special code just for that.  You're saying it doesn't work?

  • Rob.....what kind of isolation system are you using? I have been working on incorporating an autopilot onto a Bergen sized helicopter and typically the vibration levels have been enormous.  Also what kind of mixing have you been appears that a mechanically mixed swash plate is difficult to correctly configure through the mission planner. 


  • Developer

    Great job Phil, love it!

  • @wbal57, the pilot has the ability to disable the autopilot at any moment. So, if there were a loss of power, I'm sure he would prefer to do the autorotation on his own. 

  • Yes, I've even had the windmill problem with my little machines on the bench.  Though it's more of an annoyance. ;)  But I've actually through about a brake that can stop the rotor in the air.  If it's all gone horribly wrong and you can't avoid a high energy crash, might be safer to stop the rotor.  Just a crazy idea.

    Maybe we should talk.  There's going to be a big market for smaller machines I think. ;) Once this stuff goes fully mainstream. 

  • That is awesome!

    Out of curiosity; If a loss of power were to occur with a test pilot on-board and in the autonomous mode could the helicopter autonomously autorotate? 

  • @Randy,

    Thanks! but those aren't for detecting landings. They are eletro-magnets that hold the helicopter securely to a metal landing surface. The weight-on-wheels (or in this case, weight-on-skids) sensor is a bit more complicated. Looking at patents to see if we're the first to apply our specific method. 

  • @Rob - yeah, you want as little friction as possible in the rotor system, right? After the clutch between the engine and rotors is disengaged, it only takes a light breeze to keep the rotors windmilling indefinitely. rotor brake is an absolute must for ship-based operations.

    Yep, your use-case sounds remarkably similar .... ;-)   We actually have a full CAD design for a 700 gasser that could carry 5kg for 2hours (maybe more, but 10kg would be pushing it). Flew the prototype, but put the design on a shelf and went even bigger!

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