The Fastest Drone I did


Project date 2002-2006 Completed

Wing Span 12ft

Weight 60-80kg

Engines tested were : 342cc boxer, 500cc boxer, 298cc Wankel Rotary

Max speed achieved was 400kph level flight with 298cc Wankel rotary engine

Launcher also took lot of time to develop

Landing bally or parachute

Autopilot  did with electro-mechanical gyro with gps and pressure sensor. 

Above photo is of final version and videos are from early testing / developing versions.



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  • Is your airship going to be man piloted or unmanned? You can launch easily both gas or electric UAV under gravity again the recovery has to by mean of net and anchor else you can design an open bay at the back of your air ship were the uav can enter to land and the railed again after recharging or refueling. 

    Your project is very interesting and will require lot of investment for proof of concept.

    Good luck 

  • Yes, I'm planning on in-flight launch and recovery systems.  I've been studying the trapeze system used on the Airships Los Angeles and Macon and can easily adapt those into my design with a servo-controlled release mechanism.  The HTA Drones themselves would have to have a "pilot's eye view" cam as well as ground sensor units and the mothership drone would as well have to have an approach control cam to guide incoming craft.  In the era of the carrier airships, the planes and airships were heavier due to technological developmental constraints. The American airship program failed because of a flawed tail design which while lightening the load also weakened the structure.  The zeppelins had a cruciform tail, and thusly had very few problems during their operational career.  Statistically even today Zeppelin Dirigibles are safer than's just the people who fly them you have to worry about. 


    The Hindenburg was brought down ultimately by impatient pilot error although both the Germans and Americans of the era were "too polite" to come out and say it like that.  The in-flight landings on airships were less difficult to achieve than a hot landing on a pitching aircraft carrier deck and it was really not much more than a matter of matching speeds of both craft and the slower airship coming to maximum cruising speed to allow the aircraft to hook-on.  This is why we could never launch jets from an airship, they just can't fly slow enough to land on the things.  It takes teamwork, but my Colossus project is a crew-based uav concept.


    The whole project, when finished, will require a crew of 5 or more to operate all of the systems in the airship depending on the timeframe of desired operational activity.  The airship itself will be close to 80 feet long and is designed for high altitude flight.  The idea is to allow a broader coverage in less time over a given area.  Launching multiple drones allows for a wide sweep and quick exfiltration.  Get in take the a bunch of pictures get out quick.  One drone that can carry out the task of what was formerly 5 or 6 in a single mission.


    So you think the HTA drones weight is sufficient to quickly achieve flight speeds without needing a catapult system?  I was planning on being able to use gas drones for the HTA's and I was thinking that the catapult system could be retrofitted to also include an integral pull start for the gas motor, starting the motor as the craft is being launched...think of the pull-strip toy race cars.  The trapeze system would weigh considerably less.  The undercarriage of the flight nacelle that you see in my edited drawing is actually the keel (external keel on flight nacelles, internal keel on main nacelle) of the airframe so it will be there with or without the catapult system.  I would just end up mounting the trapeze units under the keel.  Basically the airship part is under's figuring out exactly how to launch and recover the planes in-flight and refuel the planes once they are aboard either by plugging in to a ship-board solar charging system (which is already designed in) or by having some sort of adaptation of the probe-and-drogue for the gas motors.

  • Collins: What i feel you do not need a launcher for UAV to launch from air ship only a release mechanism will work good enough and u can gain good speed under gravity (free fall with bit of a nose down attitude). what altitude you r planing to release the drone from airship? for recovery you can use a net and anchor system which some of the UAVS uses.

    Dead renocking is nearly impossible as Chuck said with both the crafts moving.

  • So you plan to launch drones out of the front of the air ship and recover them from the rear?

    I think they did that in the 1930s with piloted planes.  But it didn't pan out.

    The launching is easy.  The recovery is difficult at best if not nearly impossible.


  • Basically I want to be able to launch several from the forward section, and recover them from the aft while in flight.  Your launcher design looks compact enough to fit my airframe design, but I would need to be able to mount 3 of them next to each other in tight, staggered rows like:






    To enable the transport and launch of multiple UAV's without having to have a double-ballonet airframe. 

  • I just uploaded an edited image from my sketchup design.  Some of the elements are blurred because the design isn't done yet, and I'm hoping that I might be able to do something worthwhile with this design.  I also design full size thermal airships and am working on another UAV which will be the flight and handling test vehicle before I begin construction.  I'll be sewing the envelope this winter and am waiting for the delivery of the framing materials for the dirigible frame now.  I'll post actual photographs of that once I get to a point where the photos would look cool.  Right now it's just a couple piles of most of the materials I need...I'm waiting on the rest.


    Here's the photo: 3692267228?profile=original


    In case I can't embed images on this site, here's the link to my picasa page where I uploaded it. I'm gonna upload the unedited designes for my thermatic dirigible up there too in case anyone is interested, but I think the UAV version of it will go farther here...

  • If you mean trigger the launch sequence?  Yes. 

  • Wes Collins:  Can you post the photo of your drone so that i can give you advise remote launching actuator can be added.


  • Would it be possible to mount your launcher system on an LTA drone?  I'm working on a hybrid gas/electric UAV system which combines both lighter-than-air and powered flight drones for a force-multiplying effect.  Basically, is it possible to reverse the launching system and mounts so that they are on the top of the fuselage rather the underside?  Can a remote launching actuator be added to the avionics and flight control package?

  • Avionics: GPS telemetry and also by measuring time from runway end to end.

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