Golden Eagle UAV Spreads its Wings and Flies


For the second year in a row, Mike Tranchitella of UAV-Assistance has successfully provided support to Clarkson University for the continued development of their Golden Eagle Educational UAV. Utilizing an Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) sanctioned club field, the Clarkson team’s hard work paid off with several successful days of flying. The UAV is based on the Vector P which was previously produced by IntelliTech Microsystems. Professor Marzocca, leading the UAV activities at Clarkson, proposed several modifications including a larger platform that would work better for their needs and also make a great educational project. Student Dan Valyou took the lead and enlarged the Vector platform by 10%, while reducing overall weight by the same amount. He also incorporated several changes including a complete redesign of the fuselage and flight instrumentation package. The result is an excellent flying aircraft with generous amounts of payload and fuel capabilities.

With the limitations imposed by the FAA regarding the use of UAVs, Clarkson (like many other educational institutions) is restricted to flying at AMA fields where only a small portion of their system can be utilized. In an effort to provide the highest degree of safety, Clarkson chose not to equip the aircraft with an autopilot and the flights were made with standard “off-the-shelf” R/C equipment. The team is currently working on obtaining affordable restricted airspace and an FAA approval with the intention of flying autonomously.

Continuing with the educational and safety themes, UAV-Assistance provided guidance to the students in many areas of UAVs including engineering, flight operations and pilot/crew training. From identifying potential trouble areas to installing an ignition to fixing a fuel pump, the students received plenty of instruction and hands-on time with the aircraft. They also learned the importance of pre-flight checklists, the need to be focused and most importantly, to resist the urge to rush when conducting flight operations. Current plans call for a new tail and wing design that will challenge the students’ knowledge and abilities and also enhance the Golden Eagle’s excellent flying characteristics. With the installation of an autopilot system and the FAA approval in place, the Golden Eagle will then be able to stretch its wings and fly to its true potential. Clarkson University is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues.

For more information on the Golden Eagle and Clarkson’s UAVs visit their website at or email Professor Pier Marzocca at

UAV-Assistance is an Unmanned Air Systems consulting company with 12 years of professional UAV experience. To learn more about UAV-Assistance, visit their website at or email Mike Tranchitella at


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