Monday, November 3, 2014

ERAU-W 2nd SUAS Competition and Demonstration

This weekend, I had an opportunity to assist with ERAU-Worldwide's second Small UAS Challenge held at the Wings Over Houston airshow at Ellington Field, TX (the first was held recently at the Reno Air Races in September). What a great experience this proved to be! I met many aviation enthusiasts, including the younger generation of remote control model aircraft pilots. 

Using hardware purchased by ERAU (Syma 5Xc and Helimax quadcopters), donated materials, and participation of local operators, we were able to engage and introduce the public to this technology, our education programs, and possible career opportunities. We invited people to try their hand at flying RC aircraft using donated copies of Real Flight 7 RC Flight Simulator (several copies donated by the awesome folks at Hobbico/Great Planes). Some were even able to progress to flying the affordable, yet very capable demonstration quadrotors we brought in our custom enclosure (structure was approved by the FAA for on site, exterior flight operations). Throughout the weekend, we provided flight demonstrations to exhibit the capabilities of these systems (had a few minor crashes without mishap even though steady winds were 10-15 knots, gusting up to 20 knots). 

One of our event participants, Droneworks, provided amazing demonstrations showcasing first person view [FPV] operations (output of video feed displayed on a large monitor for public viewing) and flight capabilities of their large octocopter, which they use for professional aerial photography and filming. Another of our competitors demonstrated the stability of the DJI Phantom 2 platform, despite the fairly high winds.  I look forward to more such opportunities to provide public outreach and education regarding the safe, efficient, and effective use of unmanned aircraft technology for both recreation and purposed application. Credit for the success of this event is due to the combined efforts of David Thirtyacre, Jeff Jorgensen, Dr. Timothy Holt, and Scott Burgess, who worked tirelessly to setup and run this competition and demonstration.

Check out some more pictures from this event below.