The Gannet's First Flight

(last update:   14 Mar 2012)

The "Gannet" is a plane built for research in bird migration.

While it was cloudy with showers on flight test day, it wasn't so dark as some of the photos suggest. The real problem was operator trouble with the camera. This was one of my first forays with a used Nikon D70, and I have not mastered all the controls yet. And no... I am not using any of the automatic modes... that's cheating... can't help it I'm old school.

Below The Gannet fuselage is next to the builder's (Brian Barainca) Subaru, prior to first flight.

Gannet fuselage without wing

Here's the wing still in the Subaru.

Gannet wing in the Subaru

Some images of the Gannet with the wing attached.

Gannet with wing 1

Gannet with wing 2

Gannet with wing 3

Gannet with wing 4

Gannet with wing 5

Gannet with wing 6

Gannet with wing 7

Gannet with wing 8

In the next two photos Brian is working to get the antenna wire fastened to its anchor under the starboard (right) wing.

Antenna_Anchor_1

Antenna_Anchor_2

Below Brian is on the left with the transmitter. Mike is on the right. One and all are agonizing over the runway.

Runaway_suitability

Here's the flight test team (less the photographer), just prior to the first flight.

Flight_Test_Team

Pilot performs final flight control tests.

Flight_Control_Tests

OK... turn on the camera...

Camera_on

Throttling up...

Throttle_up

... and the takeoff roll...

Takeoff_roll_1

Takeoff_roll_2

Takeoff_roll_3

Takeoff_roll_4

... and finally airborn.

Airborn

Thrust vector of the engine causes a good amount of porpoising when rolling the throttle on and off, despite 6 degrees of pitch at the fire wall, and the vector pointing through the center of gravity (more or less).

Well out of danger and behaving nicely just under 100 meters up.

Airborn_2

Orbiting the field...

Orbiting

...OK time to bring her back down...

Landing_Pattern

The photographer was a bit slow on the uptake. Too much watching, and I had forgoten about the camera. Almost missed touch down.

On_Final

Touchdown...

Touchdown

Roll out.

Roll_out

... roll stop... first flight completed.

First_flight_completed

Good girl... good girl... such a good girl.

Turn_off_the_camera

Not really... just had to remember to turn off the camera.

Wow! First flight went well. Just some modest tuning to do.

Success

Of coarse that didn't stop all the pointy headed engineers in attendance from chatting about ways to improve the design. Including massive structural changes... whatever.

Well done Brian!!!

Many thanks to Rebecca Holberton PhD for funding the project. One and all eagerly await the chance to use the plane in the research for which it is intended.