March 26, 2004
Colloquium Speaker: Maynard Hill
Mr. Maynard Hill was a metallurgist for most of his career at APL and served as a program manager for remotely piloted vehicles in the APL Aeronautics Department during the 1980's. His professional involvement in unmanned vehicle systems started in 1967 when he worked on meteorological investigations of clear air turbulence for the Air Force. From 1964 through 1971, he established 13 different records for radio-controlled aeromodels and invented a method of stabilizing aircraft through the use of the electrostatic field that exists in the atmosphere. The work he accomplished while at APL included designing the Exdrone, which is now known as the Marine Corps' Dragon Drone. When he retired in 1986 he started his own drone-building company. This year he built two aircraft for APL - earlier designs of the TAM-5 - and is serving as a consultant and provider of test flight services. In a current APL project, his aircraft are being used to establish a flying wireless local area network to support research on autonomous communications relays.
On August 9, 2003, Maynard Hill launched a radio-controlled aeromodel at Cape Spear, Newfoundland. After 38 hours, 52 minutes and 14 seconds of non-stop flight, the model plane landed at Mannin Beach, Ireland, on August 11. This flight was the first time a model aeroplane weighing less than 11 pounds had flown across the Atlantic Ocean. The distance of 1882 miles, and the duration figures have each been certified as world records by the Federation Aeronautique Internationale. The success was achieved after a 5-year-long effort by a team of modelers that Mr. Hill had recruited. Four models were lost at sea before TAM-5, "The Spirit of Butts' Farm," made it. Mr. Hill had previously established 23 world records for Radio Controlled aeromodels, including altitude, flight duration and closed-course speed. Much of his prior experience with model design, engine performance and weather predictions played a role in this flight. Mr. Hill's lecture will give a brief history of earlier records, highlighting the ways in which each of these led to this flight, a cliff-hanger tale of success.