Hyperion Report – From Germany to Australia via Colorado in Three Minutes
Mark Johnson, an aerospace engineering graduate student at the University of Colorado, reports:
On April 23rd, 2011, a group of engineering students from around the globe convened at the Arvada Associated Modelers Airpark to conduct a three-minute demonstration flight of Hyperion. Hyperion is the most recently completed graduate project based at the University of Colorado’s (CU) Aerospace Engineering Sciences department. Hyperion is an experimental, 10-foot span composite aircraft designed to demonstrate hybrid power technology on a modified blended-wing platform.
The Hyperion team consists of graduate students from CU as well as the Universities of Stuttgart (Germany) and Sydney (Australia). The team was faced with the challenge of finding a suitable testing site to fly the aircraft. The Arvada Modelers Airpark, located only 20 minutes south of Boulder, quickly emerged as the top choice in meeting this objective. The primary runway was considered necessary for Hyperion: a 750 feet long, 50 feet wide, smooth, highway-grade concrete surface that proved to be ideal for flight testing a novel aircraft geometry. Combined with the welcoming, curious and community-oriented club members who accompanied the team at the airpark and advised on safety, these attributes finalized the team’s decision to schedule a test flight.
On the morning of April 23rd, light snow was falling and the cloud ceiling was low, but winds were adequate for flying. The Hyperion team, accompanied by R/C pilot James Mack of Boulder, met at the airfield and promptly conducted a final check-out flight of a half-scale prototype aircraft. The prototype was launched eastbound and flew perfectly. Satisfied with the results, the team completed final preparations and assembly of Hyperion and started rolling the cameras. After a brief taxi and weight & balance check, the aircraft accelerated down the runway and rotated smoothly in a distance of less than 200 feet. The 45 lb experimental model lifted off and climbed into the air to the cheers of spectators and students alike. After making a few circles north of the runway, the aircraft settled on all three wheels without a scratch as it rolled down the 750 foot runway.
The Hyperion team documented several lessons learned from this project, aside from the design tasks of the project itself. The logistics of flying, from weather limits to personnel coordination to FAA requirements all came into play as the project entered the flight test phase early this year. Having a helpful ground crew of experienced modelers, like the group at AAM, proved to be a huge help in making the final demonstration of this project a success.
Arvada Associated Modelers (AAM) is an AMA Gold Leader Club that’s dedicated to community service both in the City Arvada and the surrounding Denver metropolitan area. The Arvada Air Park is a City-owned facility that is managed and maintained by AAM through its lease with Arvada. AAM has been involved with the University of Colorado, Aerospace Engineering Sciences department and its student for many years. AAM has proudly and enthusiastically supported, facilitated and participated in numerous experiments and student projects related to CU’s Aerospace Engineering program.