Falcon taxing for takeoff (photo by Constantin Diehl)
Falcon Unmanned is pleased to have demonstrated Falcon and Falcon Hover at this weekends Rocky Mountain Airshow in Greeley Colorado. This was the first time in the US that a UAV without a military designation or special airworthiness certificate was able to perform in an outdoor air show demonstration with the FAAs consent. In the end we were flying under AMA rules as an AMA sanctioned event however I believe that the precedent has been set to open the door for future demonstrations of this type of technology under the COA process. The actual demonstration included a bungee launch of Falcon, a couple of passes of the spectatros, and recovery. This was followed by a flight of Falcon Hover along the runway across from the crowd. During both flights we were broadcasting the video feed from our new stabilized gimbal on the jumbotron. Following the main demonstrations flights were completed using Falcon Hover in an indoor netted area. While we were limited flight time this is an important milestone for the industry and showed the general public the positive benefits that unmanned aircraft can provide.
We'd like to thank the Rocky Mountain Airshow staff Jim Cimiluca and Constantin Diehl for their efforts to coordinate this event with the FAA and also Mike Harrington with the AMA for his support for this event.
Falcon Hover getting a birds eye view of a P-51 (photo by Constantin Diehl)
This is certainly not the first "FAA Approved" UAS demonstration at an US air show. For example, my company was authorized by both the FAA and AMA to fly UAS/drone demonstrations in two US ICAS-member Airshows in 2013 and Memorial Day Weekend 2014. We flew multiple aircraft on autonomous waypoint missions.
I think the only thing the FAA did that is of significance in this case, is turn a blind eye to the fact that some professional UAV companies were pretending that they were flying as hobbyists.
I read another report of this whole event from another UAV operator. They said the only reason the FAA let it happen was because they were not officially flying for their company. It was being done "just for fun". In fact, I understand it got down to the point where, one of the operators wanted to set up a booth at the show to promote their company, and the FAA said that if they set up a booth, it was no longer a hobby operation, and therefore the flight would not be allowed.
I think sadly the Puma perfectly represents the civil market until at least 2021
If flying without an RC controller on an autonomous tactical UAV with an encrypted digital data link and a stabilized two axis eo/ir brushless gibmal is considered an RC demonstration then I guess thats all we did.
Also this was a Manned Airshow from the start. It didn't start as an AMA event. The airshow coordinated the event with the FAA just so we could fly a UAV and getting it to become an AMA sanctioned event was the way we found a loophole to do the demonstration.
Also TAAC is not an Airshow its a UAS conference at a leading institution for UAS research so I would hope there are some UAS demonstrations there. Not that Puma and Wasp represent the civil or DIY market though.
"RC demonstration.." would be a more realistic title for the post. RC planes at airshows are very common
I remember seeing r/c demonstrations at airshows up until 9/11, after that no more r/c at airshows, not even static displays
RC plane air show overa long time goo to see
Can't wait for the 1st RC plane flight at an airshow.
Great job Chris!
Good show Chris! We need all the positive press we can get!