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NMSU UAS Flight Test Center helps Vanilla Aircraft complete milestone flight

The New Mexico State University Physical Science Laboratory’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Flight Test Center assisted in the successful 25-hour flight of the Vanilla Aircraft VA001 Medium Altitude and Long Endurance Unmanned Aircraft at the Las Cruces International Airport, April 4.


An Unmanned Aircraft Systems flies.
The New Mexico State University Physical Science Laboratory’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Flight Test Center helped Vanilla Aircraft with a 25-hour flight at the Las Cruces International Airport, April 4. (Courtesy photo)

NMSU’s UAS FTC provided the Vanilla team with flight testing, operations expertise and crew support to successfully conduct the 25-hour long test. This flight was a major milestone in expanding the envelope toward achieving their goal of 10 days of flight.

The flight planning began early in 2015 when the Vanilla Aircraft team performed its maiden flight of the VA001 UAS in Las Cruces with the assistance of the NMSU UAS FTC. They returned after the maiden flight and performed multiple successful flights building time, endurance and experience with the unmanned aircraft system. All of this testing and validating is a build up to a record-breaking flight to take place in the coming months in New Mexico with airspace coordination with Spaceport America.

“It was a terrific moment for both teams observing the perfect culmination of extensive planning and execution of UAS operating in the National Airspace System for a 25 hour flight,” said Dennis Zaklan, deputy director of the NMSU UAS FTC.

The Vanilla Aircraft team is small group of professional engineers and aviators with diverse experience in multiple aerospace fields. Zaklan added the NMSU UAS FTC look forward to continuing the relationship with Vanilla Aircraft to achieve their lofty UAS goals.