Americas Competitions

CU Air Helios takes to the sky


News from Cornell University Unmanned Air systems

Helios, the 2014 AUVSI competition aircraft, left the ground during its much-anticipated maiden flight on March 8, 2014. Two flight tests lasting approximately 15 minutes total occurred, through
11 knot winds and a slight crosswind. Take-offs and landings were well-executed, and the plane’s superior aerodynamic design was validated, sustaining only slight damage to the right tail attachment point due to in-flight stresses.

“Wing features such as tip dihedral, washout, and taper proved effective in making Helios stable and easy to control, despite the slight crosswind during the maiden flight,” commented airframe sub-team lead Cory Pomerantz ‘14. “

The efficient airfoil and wing design resulted in a projected flight time of 20-25 minutes, as designed.”
The airframe team plans on adjusting Helios to optimize flight performance. Airframe sub-team member Asta Li ‘16 noted, “At our next test flight, we plan on testing flap performance and refining the CG position. If we could tweak the airframe design, we would increase the wing dihedral and decrease the tail angle of incidence.”

With Helios airworthy, the team is now preparing for a fully-loaded test flight. Additionally, mission components such as the camera gimbal mount are being installed in the fuselage. Test flights will occur as frequently as the Ithaca weather will comply to maximize the testing time before the competition in June.


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