Wednesday, November 25, 2020
Sunday, November 22, 2020
Thursday, November 19, 2020
Tuesday, November 17, 2020
Sunday, November 15, 2020
Friday, November 13, 2020
This arrived Thursday but I didn’t get around to reviewing prior today.
In brief, what GoFly are saying is “First to send us a video of yourselves flying around for 20 minutes in a vehicle that fits in a 2.60 metre bubble ~ and if we observe same on a given date ~ then the $million’s yours.’
This leaves us looking like Macmillan on the day Hitler told him they’d built a Luftwaffe and he was on the end of it…
And having read eVTOL news this week ~ site currently crashed coincidentally or not ~ Dragonair seem good to go.
(a) they’ve Part 103 approval from the FAA and are free to fly any time
(b) we’ve no equivalent and a CAA deemed unsuited to purpose by the AAIB
(c) …who allow NO radio-control tests beside a snail-paced Experimental category
(d) the weather in Florida is ideal for flying, and shit as ever in the north of England
(e) they’ve a do-able drive to wherever GoFly decide the observation will take place
(f) we’ve the Atlantic to cross
(g) they’ve the required batteries
(h) we don’t and the extra weight would require a motor upgrade to those they use.
None of which is to begrudge their efforts, as I’ve always considered Dragonair a front-runner since seeing the footage, the team and the prototype in action.
Whether it’s a vehicle for everyone however is a moot point ~ Mariah being the only one to take to it like a duck to water, having taught people to fly water-jet packs.
Am also aware that luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity!
My immediate question would be (and I’ve copied in GoFly) whether the observation would take place in the US, which would likely be the final nail in our coffin.
Having said all that, it’s been a blast, the build experience has steered us toward saleable product, and of course the organiser (herself) retains an interest in the company.
Great shame not to be able to meet up with them all again though, so as ever it's about appreciating whatever each day brings… and with sincere thanks for your support.
Colin S. Hilton
In response to new GoFly rules that are like standing at a trackside, firing a gun and declaring the race on no matter how far they've all got... I've placed my bets already on Team Dragonair!
Thursday, November 12, 2020
Monday, November 9, 2020
GoFly was and is the Boeing-sponsored competition that inspired any number of efforts around the world to design and build a compact form of personal air vehicle (PAV). The Vertical Flight Society recently summarised the ongoing progress of the twenty-one teams appearing at the fly-off in California in February of this year (2020), and for my own benefit if nothing else, I have condensed that further.
In view of the Coronavirus pandemic whose worst effects were starting to be realised around the same time, it is worth reviewing the prospects of those teams most invested in the competition, if only to take stock of the prospects for electrical flight in particular at the smallest scale.
Most of the investment around the globe has been concentrated to date upon the development of wholly larger 'flying taxis'. Nonetheless as can be seen from the interest in jet-pack technology ~ and as seen here, electrical forms of personal elevation ~ their may yet be a profitable niche lying between heavy drones on the one hand, and these multiple-occupancy types.
As seen in the previous post, it was single-seat step-through motorcycles that most democratised motorised forms of terrestrial mobility, and there is no reason to believe that single-seat types might not pioneer a similar path to the skies:Aeroxo's AVIABIKE from Russia, with a base in Riga (a place I've been in connection with flight training). Their tilt-rotor industrial drone does pre-date their piloted project for the challenge, and from the website it appears this is where the current efforts are concentrated, if only by way of a faster route to market given a straightforward means of certification. This is a frequent path for even the best-invested firms to take, Volocopter themselves being recently side-tracked by a smaller cargo-carrying version.
Friday, November 6, 2020
Thursday, November 5, 2020
|Picnic at Hanging Dock|
’Twas the eve before lockdown ~ that annual event in the English calendar ~ and I decide upon an operational sortie, or form of ‘dry-run’ in advance of the inevitable CAA approval for thoroughgoing flight-tests of the radio-controlled TELEDRONE octocopter. For this I’m joined by a licensed drone-pilot and Martin Andrews’ heir-apparent, and convene upon a local farmer’s field of lawn-turf.
All of which proves the value of real-time experience with a full-scale eVTOL capable of levitating a full-scale Colin Hilton. I had intended upon a preparatory this kind of got lost among the Alan Bennett box-sets. Shortly after gracing the hallowed-turf, therefore, on opening the screen I learn that (a) it is too bright to see the screen (b) thus cannot tell when it is on and when it off. As the wifi has been left on too, being a Windows computer it spends most of its waking life trying to install downloads to the operating system. And whilst this goes on, or rather doesn’t, I get a call from an irate farmer to say I shouldn’t really have driven across his super-sized lawn without agricultural balloon-tyres.
As a consequence, I am unable to persuade Mission Planner to connect to the drone, or vice-versa, without which we cannot see how much battery power remains available to run the motors without draining them completely… which renders LiPo battery-packs useless, and which itself is much like burning €500 notes for a hobby. The drone does have an alternative means of signalling this condition, and this is to drop out of the sky like a fifty-kilo sack of potatoes.
Am conscious that the drone-pilot has a day-job to pursue, and money to earn instead of frittering away like this. And so I remove the Jimny to the nearest exit point without passing ‘GO’ and sit on the trailer consuming what Northerners call our ‘snap’ or else a corned-beef roll and a flask of tea.
Thereafter I repair to the electrical engineers homestead, as he is the only one of the team knowing anything about Windows, and how to rectify our failure to persuade the applicable ‘driver’ to recognise the aerial plugged into the USB port. This he persuades it to do in around ten seconds flat, and I make a mental note to make sure he’s on a short lease next time around.
The joy doesn’t end there, for as I am explaining the importance of cross-checking the electrical connections like the cabin doors on an airliner, I promptly connect two fully-charged battery-packs together so as to create s form of plasma discharge bubble that encapsulates my left-hand. The reason nobody was close enough to do that all-important cross-checking, too, was that nobody wanted to be anywhere near those 32” carbon-fiber propellers with around six horse-power each to play with.
This was almost enough to put me off, and while the damage to my own set of digits looked spectacular, ’Twas but a scratch as the cavalier without the leg said at the Battle of Waterloo. The said engineer suggested that I not post the pic on the blog, but like the great parliamentarian Cromwell would say of his portrait, it must be warts-and-all or else nothing.
For no lesson goes unlearned, and connecting the wrong ends of fifty volts is something, like life itself, that you only do once. I also make a mental note of using only fourteen-cell packs in future, instead of pairs of seven- which have to be joined in series so as to meet the required voltage.
It puts me off only momentarily however. I was once most of the way to Southampton at around eight-thousand feet when my (single) engine appeared to have iced up for reasons best known to itself, and I had to exit the airway and glide all the way to Luton Airport. Even next morning I was loathe to get back into the saddle, but you have to.
Anything you walked away from cannot have been that bad, they used to say, though as you get older you cannot help feeling that anything that left you alive cannot have been all that bad either.
Worst thing about the day though is the fact I miss my Kundalini yoga class just prior the second national lockdown.
Sunday, November 1, 2020
I think the modern world ~ just when we thought we'd conquered Nature along with all else ~ is ham-strung by a fear of death and an aversion to every conceivable risk.
Ironically this might accelerate the death of what it means to be human, moving ever more of our daily affairs online and into the hands of robotic and artificial means of intelligence.
In the pursuit of eVTOL, while we may not want to wait for the government, we want even less to be waiting on authorities that will inevitably use the excuse of a pandemic to strangle it at birth.