NASA Flies RC Cub For UAS Research

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With so many companies working on electric-powered VTOLs and other airplanes of the future, it may seem odd that NASA is experimenting with what is essentially a big RC model of a Cub. The airplane, about 60 percent the size of a piloted aircraft, couldn’t look much more traditional, with its tailwheel, a big wide wing and a single prop on the nose. Yet the recent tests conducted at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in California are “leading a critical phase for UAS integration into the National Airspace System, by educating engineers and validating key technologies that will directly apply to the next generation of large-scale unmanned vehicles,” NASA said.

The MicroCub is a Bill Hempel Super Cub design, NASA said, with a 21-foot wingspan, modified by engineers at Armstrong to support their research. On Jan. 18, the MicroCub flew for the first time. NASA said this initial flight was intended to check the ground handling and flight characteristics of the aircraft, and also to validate the command-and-control system, verify the “remote control only” mechanism, set the tuning for autopilot gain, perform engine runs, gauge fuel consumption and test stall speed. The aircraft is equipped with a Piccolo Autopilot guidance system and a JetCat SPT-15 Turboprop engine. After the initial January flight, the aircraft was also equipped with an onboard smoke system, which will be used as “a see-and-avoid tool,” NASA said.

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Comments (3)

From the Saturn V, to this?

Posted by: Ken Keen | March 14, 2018 7:34 AM    Report this comment

There are hundreds of videos on Youtube of enthusiasts doing this same thing - without spending a dime of tax money. What exactly was the point of this???

Posted by: Unknown | March 14, 2018 8:48 AM    Report this comment

This article really didn't explain anything. Obviously NASA is not flying RC airplanes for the fun of it, although this plane looks like a blast to fly. They are using the subscale Cub to test new technologies for detect and avoid; in essence "how can you avoid other aircraft using sensors instead of eyeballs out the cockpit?"

Posted by: Michael Vincent | March 14, 2018 9:21 AM    Report this comment

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