If you saw the "shocker" headline this
week (December 4, 2010) about the R/ C airplane that recorded a video while flying over the New York Harbor, you might think that this is a
first. It is not. The August 1957 edition of American Modeler had a story on page 8 about a QL-17 drone, operated by the Army's Signal Corps
Engineering Labs at Fort Monmouth, being remotely piloted while filming an area of New York City.
Here is the video that was posted on YouTube on
November 30, 2010. The video shows Team Black Sheep flying in New York, over the Brooklyn and Verazano Bridge, around Downtown Manhattan and
the Statue of Liberty. It all began with their post on the RC Groups website, and evidently caused quite a stir with Homeland Security, but no charges were filed...yet anyway.
It is undoubtedly a cool video and demonstrates superb piloting, but the AMA will probably not look too favorably at the event since it
is constantly fighting the FAA to keep R/C aircraft from being regulated under its airspace rules for remotely piloted unmanned aircraft.
Hey, R/C'ers, how would you like to fly something like this? "This" is a remote controlled job fitted with a TV camera shooting out of
its belly. L-17B 4·place liaison craft built in 1948 recently modified into QL-17 drone by Temco for Army's Signal Corps Engineering Labs at
The QL-17 operates R/C on "auto" pilot by means of on-off type radio signal and a ground-control station that can
be' transported in a jeep. For "sight unseen flight,". plane's operation is coupled with a new Signal Corps radar. Babcock equipment (shown
in cockpit below) is also used in transmitter.
At altitudes of 5000 ft., the 50-lb, high-quality TV camera transmits picture
of the terrain up to 40 miles away. As a combat vehicle, the craft would serve as an airborne TV "eye" permitting pilotless surveillance of
difficult-toreach enemy installations. A photo recorder at the receiving station can take still pix or movies of the continuous terrain
picture TV'd back for "future reference."
Signals from ground station to 42-lb auto-pilot brain regulate stability, altitude and airspeed.
Special control provision prevent stalls, overspeeding, excessive loss of altitude, other hazardous conditions. When drone mission is completed,
ground controller flicks "approach" switch which automatically positions landing gear, flaps, prop pitch and power in proper sequence for
Further advanced NULLO (no living pilot) tests will be at Army's Ft. Huachuca, Ariz., Electronic Proving Grounds.
As the photo above indicates the editorial offices of American Modeler are but a half block from the United Nations buildings
in New York City. So we find ourselves in a lot of photographs these days. But to our knowledge this is the first time we, or the UN, have
been "shot" via R/C.
Aircraft shown on the cover, Army 71344, has been undergoing extensive flight tests to determine how violent
the turbulence caused by jet aircraft on takeoff can be to a light plane. The drone is subjected to sonic shock waves in flight.