Fully Autonomous Marathon Flight!


This week I successfully piloted the Raptor 140 over a marathon's distance (42km or 26mi) by flying 45.7km or 28.4mi. I say pilot, but really it was a 99% autonomous flight, controlled by the APM2.6 Flight Controller.

It was also a flight duration record for me, taking 39 minutes to complete, with an average airspeed of 80kph (50mph) and an average ground speed of 70kph (43mph) due to a strong southernly air current. The flight consumed 9.2Ah of energy at 11.1v, and achieved 4.9km/Ah, much lower than the 140's average of 5.6km/Ah (strong cross winds and cold temperatures reduced it's flight capacity).

All in all the APM and Raptor140 performed flawlessly. Next up? Flying a marathon cross country! (taking off at one location, and chasing the airplane in a car to land at another location).

See you next week!


Safety note: I maintained line of sight during this flight, and had my controller close by to take manual control as needed. The altitude reads 150m, but I take off in a valley, the true AGL for the majority of the flight is 100-120m.

Raptor 140b Stats:
Weight: 1780g
Max Flight Time: 60min
Max Range: 50km
Stall Speed: 30kph
Cruise Speed: 95kph
Max Speed: 135kph
Radio Range: 1.5km
Energy Carried: 10,000mAh
Power: 850w

The equipment used---
Raptor 140 airplane: http://store.mygeekshow.com/product-p/raptor-140-kit.htm

Radio Tx: ParkeFlyer Turnigy 9x Tx: http://parkeflyer.com/
Telemtry: 915mhz 100mW 3DR http://store.3drobotics.com/products/3dr-radio-telemetry-kit-915-mhz
Laptop: Compaq Presario CG57

Flight Controller: APM2.6 https://store.3drobotics.com/products/apm-2-6-kit-1
Reciever: 6ch FlySky http://www.hobbypartz.com/79p-r6b-receiver.html
Telemtry: 915mhz 100mW 3DR http://store.3drobotics.com/products/3dr-radio-telemetry-kit-915-mhz
Battery: (2) 5.0Ah 20C Turnigy Lipo: http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/__9184__turnigy_5000mah_3s_20c_lipo_pack.html
ESC: 60A Brushless http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/__32820__TURNIGY_Plush_60amp_Speed_Controller_USA_Warehouse_.html
Motor: 3542 1450kv brushless http://hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/uh_viewItem.asp?idProduct=38700
Prop: 10x7 Carbon Fiber Folding http://www.hobby-lobby.com/10x7_carbon_fiber_cam_blade_798_prd1.htm
Servos: 11g digital http://hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/uh_viewItem.asp?idProduct=42620
Onboard camera: http://www.ebay.com/itm/16-V2-Lens-D-808-Key-Chain-Video-Camera-/380627482427?#ht_5755wt_1149

Learn More:
Raptor Details: http://www.mygeekshow.com/theairplanes/Raptor140.html
USA Trip Details: http://www.mygeekshow.com/usatrip/

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

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  • Gagerian: Very true... as the 140b is so CG balanced, its more prone to tip stalling, so I like to keep it coming in hot. I'm thinking about adding airbrakes! That would be interesting.

    Marius: Yeah, 20Ah is about right, giving current set up. Agreed on the landing reduction, my goals is 150km at 1.5 hours. I believe a flying by its nature has less drag (no fuselage), but I've not done a lot of testing on traditional airframes to prove that. I'm using 11.1v for now, but will be going for 14v+ in the future for efficiency, the same reason others are. I'll of course post my results!

    Nikola: That would be awesome. Isn't there some effort going into the APM detecting thermals?

  • Impressive.  Makes me wonder what would be involved in designing an autonomous glider that could seek and ride thermals over great distances just like the real thing.

  • Awesome job Trent!


    Looks like other people have to stack up to 20.000 mAh into their planes to get to the 100km mark. Increasing your range would be quite handy on your cross-country trip to minimise takeoff and landings. Since you have tested out a lot of different planes, I was wondering if you could answer the following questions:


    1: With the raptor single wing design, is this more efficient due to a greater lift area (rather than having a fuselage)?

    2: What is the maximum amount of battery capacity that you get into your raptor 140?

    3: Any reason why you opted for your current battery/motor/prop system, as I see some people use 6S batteries with low KV motors and larger props.


    Keep up the good work, Marius

  • Nice Trent keep it up. You can try and plan your approach and watch your airspeed and alt on finals, too much height and A/S will increase causing a long float on landing. Don't worry it takes some practice. You can also try an dedicated training flight where you do repetitive take off and landings :) 

  • Thanks Michael!

  • Moderator

    Well done Trent. 

  • Gary: Getting closer to that 100! However, my 46km is at 80kph :) Landing challenge is on. Watch for it! :)

  • Moderator

    Only 58km and you can have a 100 badge Trent! Well done. I think I want to see a video of you practising landings. A cross on the ground and approaches to the same place, You might need to land in a very tight spot on the cross country and at the minute I see lots of walking ;-)

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