The Gooney Bird long-range drone was unveiled today. The 13-foot-span vehicle was created to set new range and endurance records for sub-55-pound model aircraft and UAVs. The craft is currently under preparations for a summer 2015 record-breaking 100+ hour endurance flight of more than 5,000 nautical miles.
Designer and fabricator Rob Coatney commented, “I started with a conventional fixed-wing design. Then I distilled it down to the bare essentials and optimized everything that remained.”
The prototype flew for the first time in the fall of 2014. It was glide tested under manual radio control with five pounds of iron ballast in place of the propulsion unit. Thanks to the help of several volunteers, the aircraft was launched into the strong ridge lift above Hood River, OR and the approximately 30-minute flight was video recorded. “I was a bit apprehensive about how strong the winds were, but 10 seconds after launch I had her trimmed out and I knew it was going to be a fun flight,” said Coatney. “The hardest part was keeping it from climbing too high. But it performed fantastically, even pulling off a few graceful loops.”
Autopilot and propulsion integration are ongoing. It will be powered by a gasoline engine with a loiter-optimized propeller. All systems are designed for high reliability and all-weather capability.
About Gooney Bird
Gooney Bird is sponsored by Cloud Cap Technology, Microhard Systems Inc, and C&H ignitions, who have generously donated material support.
Mr. Coatney is currently an aero/mechanical engineer for Zepher Inc.; an aerospace design, engineering, and integration manufacturing company.