Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

NASA's Experimental Sailplane Soars Like A Bird

Date:
October 10, 2005
Source:
National Aeronautics And Space Administration
Summary:
With the graceful flight of hawks and eagles in mind, NASA aerospace engineer Michael Allen recently hand-launched a 15-pound motorized model sailplane over the Southern California desert. He was hoping it would catch plumes of rising air called thermals. The sailplane did just that several times without human intervention during a series of research flights at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center, Calif.

A NASA remote-controlled model motorized sailplane flies over Rogers Dry Lake to test the theory that catching heat thermals extends flight time for small UAVs. (NASA photo by Carla Thomas)

With the graceful flight of hawks and eagles in mind, NASA aerospaceengineer Michael Allen recently hand-launched a 15-pound motorizedmodel sailplane over the Southern California desert. He was hoping itwould catch plumes of rising air called thermals.

Related Articles


The sailplane did just that several times without human interventionduring a series of research flights at NASA's Dryden Flight ResearchCenter, Calif. The tests validated Allen's premise that using thermallift could significantly extend the range and flight endurance of smallunmanned air vehicles. Thermal lift increases vehicle endurance andsaves fuel. This is significant, as small vehicle flight duration isoften restricted by limited fuel capacity.

Allen and his team of engineers and technicians flew theremote-controlled RnR Products sailplane 17 times from July throughmid-September. The sailplane was modified by Dryden aerospacetechnicians to incorporate a small electric motor and an autopilotprogrammed to detect thermals.

The 14-foot-wingspan model flew to an altitude of about 1,000 feet.The ground-based remote control pilot then handed off control to thesailplane's onboard autopilot. The autopilot software flew the plane ona pre-determined course over the northern portion of Rogers Dry Lake atEdwards Air Force Base, Calif., until it detected an updraft. As theaircraft rose with the updraft, the engine automatically shut off. Theaircraft circled to stay within the lift from the updraft.

Allen said the small sailplane added 60 minutes to its endurance byautonomous thermal soaring. The modified sailplane gained an averagealtitude in 23 updrafts of 565 feet, and in one strong thermal ascended2,770 feet.

"The flights demonstrated a small unmanned vehicle can mimic birdsand exploit the free energy that exists in the atmosphere," Allen said."We have been able to gather useful and unique data on updrafts and theresponse of the aircraft in updrafts. This will further the technologyand refine the algorithms used."

Small, portable, unpiloted, long-endurance vehicles could fulfill anumber of observation roles including forest fire monitoring, trafficcontrol, search and rescue.

For more information about flight research at Dryden on the Web visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/centers/drydenFor information about NASA and agency programs on the Web, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/home


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Aeronautics And Space Administration. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Aeronautics And Space Administration. "NASA's Experimental Sailplane Soars Like A Bird." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 October 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/10/051010100548.htm>.
National Aeronautics And Space Administration. (2005, October 10). NASA's Experimental Sailplane Soars Like A Bird. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 28, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/10/051010100548.htm
National Aeronautics And Space Administration. "NASA's Experimental Sailplane Soars Like A Bird." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/10/051010100548.htm (accessed March 28, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Inspectors Found Faulty Work Before NYC Blast

Inspectors Found Faulty Work Before NYC Blast

AP (Mar. 27, 2015) An hour before an apparent gas explosion sent flames soaring and debris flying at a Manhattan apartment building, injuring 19 people, utility company inspectors decided the work being done there was faulty. (March 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Facebook Building Plane-Sized Drones For Global Internet

Facebook Building Plane-Sized Drones For Global Internet

Newsy (Mar. 27, 2015) Facebook on Thursday revealed more details about its Internet-connected drone project. The drone is bigger than a 737, but lighter than a car. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robot Returns from International Space Station and Sets Two Guinness World Records

Robot Returns from International Space Station and Sets Two Guinness World Records

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Mar. 27, 2015) The companion robot "Kirobo" returns to earth from the International Space Station and sets two Guinness World Records. Sharon Reich reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Residents Witness Building Explosion, Collapse

Residents Witness Building Explosion, Collapse

AP (Mar. 26, 2015) Witnesses recount the sites and sounds of a massive explosion and subsequent building collapse in the heart of Manhattan&apos;s trendy East Village on Thursday. (March 26) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins