The rotoplane was hand launched into the wind from a moving vehicle. It climbed in coordinated, controlled flight to an altitude high enough for an autorotation. At this point the motor was cut and the airplane was set into a roll. This roll merged into a situation where the airplane was spinning about its longitudinal axis, and parallel to the gravity vector as designed.
The pilot then changed the pitch of the wings to a “positive” angle of attack. It is unclear why, but the airplane then reversed its autorotation such that the what was supposed to be the top part was now the bottom. It continued in this nose upward attitude for a brief period without rotating significantly until the controls were adjusted to accomodate an autorotation in this orientation. At this time the airplane began to rotate about an axis through the center of its fuselage although pointed upward.
Without enough altitude left to rectify the situation, the test pilot let the airplane spin up and prepared for the flare at the end of the autorotations. At an altitude of about ten feet he flared. By this point, the airplane was below the tree-line and isn’t as clearly visible as I would have liked. However, it did arrest its descent as is noted by the brief pause only a couple feet off the ground.
This test was a great success for the rotoplane even though it wasn’t a perfect demonstration of the technology being developed. It did demonstrated that an airplane of the rotoplane’s configuration could fly, and that not only could it fly; it can autorotate. Future tests will be conducted with the same airframe in a couple weeks once I have time again.
Future work includes gathering data from the autorotation such as rotational rates, wing angle and descent rate. In order to accomplish this I would like to install electronic sensors. I am in the process of learning to program microcontrollers. I eventually hope to install some custom made data loggers in the airplane to gather data during autorotations.