Out of the Black: SLT VTOL UAV


I have been working on and off towards a VTOL aircraft for a few years now. All of this work has been kept off of the record, but I had the very first successful VTOL Flight and transition with this aircraft yesterday and am very excited to share these results. This method of VTOL is not a new concept, and was mainly inspired by X-planes of the past and the more modern Latitude Engineering's Hybrid Quad Rotor UAV.

Separate Lift & Thrust VTOL Aircraft were attempted in the early days of aviation, but gas powered engines and no flight control computers meant that they were unreliable and unstable. Now with the advent of powerful electric motors and advanced flight controllers like the Pixhawk, we are able to make these vehicles practical.

The Aircraft was assembled using the RMRC Anaconda as the base airframe, mated with a 3DR X8+ Power system. While my hardware and aircraft design knowledge is great, I have next to no knowledge of being able to edit software code. If anyone would like to assist in developing code for such an aircraft, it would fulfill the missing piece of the puzzle. Ideally for VTOL aircraft to be completely practical, the entire flight with transition and back should be automated and not rely on piloting skill.

I hope you all enjoy this, I will try to make more tests and videos as we continue to improve the aircraft-


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  • Developer

    Hi Joe,

    We're flying a quad+wing tail sitter at ETH - if you're interested in flight code doing both fixed wing and multicopter control, you could check this branch out:


    Feel free to join the dev mailing list:


    VTOL_architecture by RomanBapst · Pull Request #1375 · PX4/Firmware
    Added vtol_att_control module which is still in the testing phase so don't expect anything to work! fw_att_controller and mc_att_contoller now pu…
  • Nevermind I just realized Kevin has already seen it, so I'm sure Tim and the rest of the gang there has too :) Way too go man!!
  • Ha, I'm glad you posted it! Make sure you send over to Tim as well (if he hasn't already seen it) as I'm sure they'd get a kick as well!
  • We have yet to get endurance numbers, but I have a few specs I can share:

    AUW: 4.8kg

    Amp Draw in hover: ~70 Amps

    VTOL Props: 11" APC SF

    VTOL Motors: 2216 800kv x 8

    RTF Anaconda ESC, Motor and Servos

    Slats and Flaps not installed but it is planned

    Everything stays cool but VTOL System is operating at about 70% Throttle to hover

    Booms can be had here: http://www.mcmaster.com/#2153t43/=uec6l6

  • @ Rob - I still have yet to find time to build a pixhawk heli, but that work is very important. Once I get both pixhawks installed and get the plane portion flying in auto I will send you an email-

  • Glad you have it flying. We'll have to work on that other 'black ops' project next. 

  • Hey Joseph, cool project so far.  I'm definitely interested in working on projects like this, now that helicopters are almost "done".

  • One Pixhawk is flying the X8, and the plane is flown manually. Step two is adding another Pixhawk for the plane, and step 3 is automating the transition from vertical take off to forward flight and back to vertical landing

  • MR60

    Nice. So is the pixhawk only controlling the x8, and the plane is controlled manually? Or are there two pixhawk , one for running copter firmware and a second for the APM plane firmware?

  • Yes, they have a brake programmed and the Pixhawk is manually commanded to arm or disarm based on pilot discretion while in flight.

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