At last, we have had a day without rain or high winds.

We took the Hawk to the North Shore Model Aircraft field and did two flights under the direction of Dr. Tim Brooks.  The field itself was very wet, but the sky was clear and the wind only about 10 kph.

After setting up the GCS, assembling the aircraft and doing the pre-takeoff checks, Tim launched the Hawk and we flew for about 40 minutes, programming orbits, waypoints and loiter points.  The parachute recovery went well, the aircraft landed gently and avoided the surface water.

The short video clip shows the actual catapult launch.  The controller calls to the aircraft handler "Clear prop", handler responds "Prop clear"; controller: "Takeoff mode entered" and the GCS commands "Takeoff mode".  The motor winds up and the controller checks that full power is maintained and calls "Launch", whereupon the  handler releases the aircraft.  The catapult yoke falls away and after a slight dip, the aircraft climbs.  The controller waits for the system to report "Takeoff", confirming that the autopilot has established control.  At this point, the controller can manually steer the aircraft if necessary to avoid obstructions, though an ideal launch site should have none.

video

Then it was our turn.  Again the pre-takeoff checks were performed (this is necessary before every flight, even if the aircraft has flown only minutes before).  This time, John R. was the controller, John B. the handler.    Again, the aircraft took off and flew flawlessly for about 25 minutes, the video camera was turned on and the on-board system recorded the flight.  The aircraft was automatically recovered by parachute.  Though the wind had dropped, a sudden gust, probably a thermal taking off, caused the touchdown point to be about 100m away from the target area - a bit closer to the fence than we would have liked.

After the successful trial, the aircraft and GCS were packed into the Pelican Storm cases and returned to AUT.  Post flight procedures included examination of the aircraft for damage, recharging of flight and GCS batteries and, of course, the paperwork to log the flights.

The video card was removed from the aircraft and the video downloaded for examination.  One thing is clear - the amount of data generated in a single flight is going to require a lot of analysis.