RC Planes: Older Than You Think.

Link to the full article.



To summarize:

Remote-controlled, unmanned aircraft have been around since the late stages of the first World War. A prototype drone was engineered by the British in 1916 in order to combat german Zeppelins, acting essentially as giant missiles which would ram into the blimps and destroy them. This was the first aeronautical design of Professor Archibald Low, and consisted of wood and tin shaped in a biplane configuration, with a 35 HP engine powering its lone propeller. When tested in 1917, the test pilots’ lack of training with remote operating systems caused the plane to be viewed as uncontrollable and prone to random veering and spectacular crashes. Pilotless remote aircraft would be better represented after the end of the war, but until the Second Gulf War in the late Twentieth Century, they would be mostly restricted to target practice for more reliable human pilots.





  1. pidoubleg · · Reply

    Did you notice that the short piece you linked to here was a summary of a longer piece by Professor Micheal Draper that might be worth checking out. His book (see here: https://www.air-britain.co.uk/actbooks/acatalog/Sitting-Ducks—Peeping-Toms-43.html) appears to focus on British history, but might be interesting. Also, the Royal Aeronautic Society’s Historical Group might have even more useful info: http://aerosociety.com/About-Us/specgroups/Historical

  2. I found it cool to see how old the concept of the UAV really was. The role of the UAV today most definitely looks different than the role of the UAV back in 1916. For one things UAV have become more like planes and less like missiles. Additionally UAVs today have raised ethical and tactical questions.
    Another thing this article makes me think about is why some aerospace technologies get developed, and others get scrapped. What ever happened to the Hindenburgh anyways?

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