It seems that unmanned vehicles are becoming all the rage these days. Another UAV called the ScanEagle has been developed by Boeing to be used by NOAA scientists in the Arctic. The 40 pound vehicle can operate for about 20 hours and cruises at a speeds of between 45 and 70 knots.
The aircraft has to be operated by licensed pilots, and the NOAA wants to use the UAV to study Ice Seals, apparently an important species high on the food chain in the Arctic. Recently a test of the vehicle occurred in Puget Sound by being launched off of a NOAA vessel. There is little known about the Ice Seals, and there is a move to have them placed on the endarged species list.
Given the high cost of building and operating ice breakers there is no easy way to learn more about these animals about whom little is really known. Enter ScanEagle. However, the FAA is concerned about the use of this UAV and fears interference with civilian aircraft using the same airspace.
The idea is that aircraft like these will extend the ability of NOAA's non-icebreaking research vessels. The UAV can fly for up to 20 hours and a couple of hundred miles out over the Arctic ocean. Until next time keep your wings straight and level Hersch!
Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds...and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of...wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up, the long, delirious burning blue
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, nor even eagle flew.
And while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space...
...put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
by John Gillespie Magee, Jr.