Flying High and Looking Good - Y Magazine
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BYU Today

Flying High and Looking Good

Professors Timothy McLain and engineering students

A BYU team prevailed in a competition, against the likes of Boeing and NASA, with its video of unmanned airplanes. Photo by Jaren Wilkey.

BYU engineering BYU students and professors beat out defense contractors, national labs, and teams from other universities to win the Best Overall Video Award at a national competition featuring unmanned surveillance airplanes.

“I was pretty optimistic our entry would win,” says D. Blake Barber (BS ’05). “We had video of our airplanes navigating canyons, avoiding the Spencer W. Kimball Tower, flying in formation, and multiple planes arriving simultaneously over a location.”

The planes can be deployed in any fact-gathering mission—to check a battlefield, perform search-and-rescue, or track a forest fire. The unmanned air vehicles remove many of the human and some of the financial risks typically involved in those types of ventures.

“I believe that we are currently on the leading edge of experimental miniature-air-vehicle research,” says faculty advisor Timothy W. McLain (BS ’86). “Other groups are making good progress as well. To stay in front, we will need to keep pushing forward.”