On August 20th the Aerosonde Laima lifted off from Bell Island, Newfoundland and landed in a meadow in South Uist, Scotland after 26 hours and 45 minutes in the air! This was accomplished without a chase plane or international coordination between CAA’s. This feat may not be as exciting or met with the same fanfare and prize money as was displayed for Charles Lindbergh some seventy-one years before.
Fanfare or not, this represents an engineering achievement that we in the unmanned aviation community can rally around and take pride in. A milestone that proves to the world that after years of development, innovation, trial and error, UAS have finally reached some parallels with manned aviation.
Some of you may be thinking the author may have issues with math, as Lucky Lindy made his historic flight in 1927: 1927 plus 71 equals 1998, and it is 2018, a full twenty years off on the mark! No, I’ve got the dates correct. And it was August 20th, 1998, a full twenty years ahead of General Atomics effort.
I know that many of you are used to reading about the marvel of the first candy bar or bag of chips delivered down the end of the driveway by companies with more money than God. But this was the culmination of two friends, Tad McGeer and Andy von Flotow, having dinner and conversations about engineering. You can read Tad McGeer’s accounting of this exciting achievement from February 1999 here.
More information on what Dr McGeer is up to these days –