Welcome to the Clarkson University UAV "Golden Eagle" Project campaign log. The UAV aircraft carries a sonic anemometer, provided by Applied Technologies, Inc., that acquires wind vectors and accelerations. The project is a portion of a greater effort in collecting weather condition and air quality data near wind farms in Indiana funded by the Department of Energy. In doing so, the onshore collaborative is a preliminary step towards gathering data for proposed offshore wind turbine farms on and around Lake Erie. Several academic institutions and industries are partnered in the research, including Clarkson University, Indiana University, Case Western Reserve University, Arizona State University, EDP Renewables, and SgurrEnergy. Feel free to email the project for more information concerning the campaign, team members, or the "Golden Eagle" UAV aircraft.

For more information, follow the link to Indiana University's project website, http://mypage.iu.edu/~rbarthel/website/DOEindex.html

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

This Summer's Campaign and More!

It has been a while since the last post for our team here, but that doesn't mean it hasn't been a busy time in the off-season. Quite the contrary, considering that maintenance and modifications have been made to the aircraft to ensure better flight characteristics and reliability. Of course during last year's campaign in Indiana the team had an overwhelming success, but as many know, there is always room for improvement, and the team did just that.

Likewise, this past summer's campaign was worthwhile in the collection of wind data used in conjunction with Indiana University researchers. During the campaign, the team didn't go without setbacks, but this is an expected scenario when considering this aircraft as an experimental platform. Their primary issue on the aircraft itself was the ignition. Although flight would easily have been possible, the team decided to make a full repair by replacing the ignition unit entirely. As with any experimental aircraft, safety is the utmost priority, for both the team, surroundings, and the aircraft as well.

This summer's campaign took place in and around the Cleveland area at three different locations: the Port of Cleveland, Griffing Sandusky Genreral Aviation Airport, and finally at the Geauga Model Airplane Club (AMA) field in Burton. However, the Golden Eagle was not flown at the port due to safety concerns and airspace regulations. Regardless, the team managed to collect data at ground level while traversing their designated (empty) parking lot.

The AMA field was used foremost to prepare the aircraft for airworthiness, but wind data was collected as well. The only issues that were reported with the aircraft were concerning trims on the controls, but otherwise was in suitable condition for flight at the final location nearest to the shore of Lake Erie at the general aviation airport.

The Griffing Sandusky General Aviation Airport was exceptionally ideal for the Golden Eagle. Although general aircraft were actively using the facilities, safe flying operations were maintained. Constant contact was kept between the team and the aircraft in the airspace. At the airport were two tarmac runways and two grass runways with the latter of more than adequate size for the Golden Eagle. The team managed two successful thirty-minute data acquisition flights. Wind speeds reached 5-15 MPH with gusts slightly higher. Although during the Indiana campaign those wind speeds were subject to postpone flights, our returning professional pilot, Mike Tranchitella, safely piloted through these conditions. In doing so, it was recognized that the UAV still performs properly and safely at higher wind speeds, making it apparent that the aircraft is even better suited for this type of research.

Photo Credit: Len Tompos

Photo Credit: Len Tompos
All in all, this campaign was successful in providing the researchers with appropriate wind data to aid the in the feasibility of offshore wind turbine sites on Lake Erie. As mentioned before, the team had to overcome some adversity in the form of mechanical issues, but during the span of the campaign period, all issues were appropriately addressed. The team itself built upon safer regulations when supporting the program, with an initiative to continually improve the distinct roles of each member.

At the current time back at the university, a second iteration UAV is in the process of being built! And in the next month or so the team is planning a campaign, but those details will be released at a later date, so continue checking back often for updates.

Also, if you have any questions feel free to send an email to the team via the email provided on the "About the Team" page or leave a comment below.   

Photo Credit: Len Tompos

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Television News Segment Featuring the Golden Eagle

Hello everyone! It has been quite some time since we last had an update after the conclusion of our campaign in Indiana. Fortunately, we have more news for you, or at least WWNY does. This past week the news station visited the Clarkson University campus to prepare a segment on the successes of the Golden Eagle and its applications in wind turbine research. In the segment are our own Jordan Janas, Dan Valyou, and Pier Marzocca.


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Update Since Wednesday & New Videos

Hello there! Well, I'm writing this (very far) away from Indiana. I'm back to Norwich, NY getting ready to start a new job. However, I wanted to send everyone an update since Wednesday.

Wednesday we didn't fly because of extremely high winds. However, we did meet with the DOE representative to show him our concept and method of data acquisition via the sonic anemometer. Thursday, on the other hand, was a great day to get the "Golden Eagle" off the ground. The winds were nearly calm. We managed four flights yesterday: two fifteen minute data acquisition flights, a one hour data acquisition flight, and two training flights for our student pilots, Zack and Ian. Every flight went fantastically. We are planning to optimize a few things over the airframe, including the tail and tail booms. Still, for a first iteration research aircraft, the crew, Indiana University, and the DOE could not be any happier.

I left for Norwich yesterday, Friday. The crew were planning several more flights, all of which went well. We did want to share with you a new camera angle we have been experimenting with on Thursday and Friday. Matt brought his remote control truck out to the airfield. He also has a very durable HD video camera. Matt strapped the camera to his truck, and here's what he managed to capture. Enjoy!

Takeoff Mobile Camera

Takeoff Mobile Camera, Chasing

Landing Mobile Camera

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Recap of Yesterday's Endeavors (Flight!)

Hello! We were planning to publish a new post yesterday evening but we had a late night getting back and there was a lot of footage and photos to sort through (more than 13GB to be exact). We're still currently editing and preparing videos. Shaun and Jonathan are going to work on a collaborated video of all of the cameras for the maiden flight, but that will take some time to finish. In total we were using four cameras on the airstrip. For now, here are some clips from the various camera positions of the maiden flight.

Traversing Camera

Landing Threshold Camera

Takeoff Threshold Camera

Wide-Angle Camera

After the maiden flight our post-flight check indicated no issues whatsoever. Because the weather conditions were still favorable, we managed another flight shortly before noon. Later that afternoon, the Indiana University research team and the airfield owner joined us for a group photo with the "Golden Eagle."

We weren't anticipating another flight because of high wind conditions but, for a change, the weather played to our favor. The crew was able to prepare for one more flight for the day, bringing the total up to three. Yesterday was, by far, the best day we have had here in Indiana.

Today isn't so good for flying. Out on the airfield this morning there were 20 mph gusts; definitely not optimal for flight. Currently we are back at the apartments giving the "Golden Eagle" a slightly modified livery. Besides aesthetics, the aircraft is as tight as a drum.

Check back tomorrow for more updates. We'll leave you with a few more photos from yesterday. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Hello everyone! The past few days we have been waiting for the appropriate parts to fix the exhaust manifold. Yesterday evening we managed to fix the exhaust and prepare for today's attempted flight. As you can tell from the title of this post it was a successful maiden flight! The crew is performing a post-flight check over the airframe, and so far we do not have any issues whatsoever. The time it has taken to get "Golden Eagle" in the air has well indeed paid off. 

We are going to attempt to get another flight in before noon today seeing as the wind is picking up. In the evening we hope for a few more flights. Unfortunately, we are unable to publish media to the blog from the field because of a spotty internet connection. But check back later for more flight details, as well as end of the day recaps and media.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Maiden Flight Postponed

Good afternoon from Indiana. As mentioned in yesterday's post the team was planning to get the "Golden Eagle" off the ground for its maiden flight. We had yet another successful taxiing test and the UAV was looking great. Before flight, the team had a final look over the aircraft. Vibration control of the control surfaces has been working out well and that was our main concern. Our professional pilot, Mike, was taking a look of his own around the aircraft and found a crack on the exhaust manifold coupling joint; a slight set back.

The movements of the motor against that of the muffler caused rapid fatigue and finally crack propagation. Fortunately, Dan, Mike, and Zack are in the process of mending the coupling joint and finding a solution to prevent the motor vibration from translating to the muffler.

Besides this issue, the UAV is ready for flight. All of the telemetry and electrical systems are debugged. The loose fittings have all been addressed and are no longer an issue. The entire team is antsy to get the "Golden Eagle" in the air. In the taxiing tests you can sense the aircraft wanting to fly. Perhaps that is only our anticipation of flight.

In the meantime, enjoy this video of the range test from yesterday. So far, this is one of the best videos of the aircraft. You can see all of the control surface deflections (except for the flaps) as well as hear the prop wash off of the elevators (the periodic wind buffeting).

Friday, May 11, 2012

Good afternoon! As this is being written we are all together working on the aircraft after yesterday's tests. We didn't have any critical damages happen on the aircraft except for a few loose fittings. The aircraft performed very well in the engine and taxiing tests. Check out this video clip of a portion of the UAV taxiing.

Notice in the video we managed to "hop" the aircraft off its front landing gear. We have lift! Personally, this project gets more and more exciting. Every step we get closer to "wheels up." Although we hoped for a maiden flight, for safety sake, we didn't want to get ahead of ourselves and overlook the minor details. We decided to return to our apartments and manage the loose fittings instead of attempting to make the minor repairs out on the airstrip. The sun was setting and we knew we would have beautiful weather today. Besides, we had crosswinds on the airstrip of about 6 mph. Crosswinds that high are not enough to ground an aircraft of this size but the conditions weren't ideal. 

Zack and Jonathan went to a local AMA field this morning for Zack to fly his personal sailplane just to give him some stick time leading up to the UAV flight. The wind was next to calm, eluding to a perfect flying day this afternoon!

It looks like we are about ready to leave the apartments and head to the airstrip. We will keep you posted on what transpires from today's tests.

Wish us luck!