|Testimony : Autonomous Landing
[Bud mailed the following to other members of his club]:
Some of you guys know about my efforts to learn about the Ruby autopilot.
This unit has the ability to hold heading and altitude in it's "assist"
mode. And in the "autonomous" mode, it will take over the plane a circle at
a fixed altitude. I purchased one in the Beta program and installed it in
Charlie Conley's Sig LT 40, an electric conversion of that ARF. After
several back and forth's with the great Jim Hall of UThere, we got a set of
"parameters" working pretty good.
One thing that Ruby claimed to do, that I had not tested, was that the
plane on command, will fly the plane back and land it. This is done all by
itself. Once you initiate the command, Ruby will organize a landing
"solution" and then fly it. Up until last sunday, I'd lacked the balls to
try this. But this Sunday past, Ervin and I gave it a try.
I clicked the Gear Switch 3 times, Ruby took over. The plane was upwind
about 1000 feet and around 400 feet high. Ruby turned and headed west for a
downwind leg. The plane went out over the trees. Man, I wanted to take over
as the plane went further and further out. But then it slowly started to
turn left down wind, right on track for a parallel course with our runway.
Ruby was also decending to it's planned 300 foot pattern altitude.
Then the plane turned left, making a nice right angle turn for the base
leg. I could see the propeller changing speeds. Ruby controls altitude with
throttle. This is the same method all student pilots learn when flying the
Then the plane lined up with another left turn for final to our runway. The
prop is speeding up, slowing down, smooth. Slowly, the plane was coming in
on final approach. When it was about 100 feet away and 20 feet high, I took
over and landed. I have no doubt that Ruby would have landed the plane.
This is the coolest thing I have ever done in my whole model experience.
I've been flying models since 1956. This thing is an amazing tool. Wow! To
have a system on board that can fly yur plane for you has the potential to
save a lot of situations.
To bear witness, Eric A. watched the whole thing. We did it 2 more
times just for fun!