First flight with APM

First flight of the Skywalker X5 with APM
Today was the big day, the first test flight for the Skywalker X5 with the APM mounted ..... and it all went superbly! I didn't jump in the air once all the tests were complete, but I did let out a loud WOO HOO. Smiling face with open mouth

Firstly I took her up and re-trimmed her in manual, it was a little gusty but got there in the end. Once I was happy with the trims, I tested changing mode to 'stabilise' when I was flying into wind and at altitude. All went fine, there was some difference and she felt like she was definitely tracking a little better. After that I tried 'FBWA' mode and found that one a little un-nerving. The Skywalker X5 is a squirrely thing to fly and when I suddenly didn't have as much control authority as I am used to I got a little scared. Anyway the bank seemed to stop and hold at somewhere around 40 degrees I'd guess and similar with bank, so FBWA seemed to work.

All the gear needed, X5 with APM installed, laptop with Mission Planner, 9XR Tx and backpack
I then bought her in and had a break while Harry and I checked over everything. By this time Stu and Paul arrived at the field so at last I had someone who could monitor the Mission Planner while I flew. I changed the FBWA mode to RTL and took her out for another go. Oh, I made sure a new home point was correctly placed in the Mission Planner and loaded onto the APM.

The launch was a little scary (its ok I was expecting it) as I had just trimmed her for level flight. It was just a slight nose down launch until she got about a foot off the deck then she powered away and climbed just fine.

We went through the first 2 modes again to make sure all was right, and Stu was calling out the G/S, altitude, flight mode etc every so often, all seemed to be working well as what was happening in the air correlated with what was on the laptop screen. The Mission Planner did seem to freeze a few times, but within a few moments came back to life, still not sure what that's about. The time was right so I clicked the RTL (again on and upwind leg and at altitude) and guess what?...... she took herself back over to the position I had marked on the map and started circling! Absolutely exhilarating to watch but again a little un-nerving when you don't have to be hyper focussed on keeping the flying brick airborne. It was only a quick RTL test I didn't have the courage to let it go on for long and shortly after I decided to bring her in, "quit while I am ahead" is exactly what I said to myself!

A massive thank you to David DwgSparky from DIY Drones for all his guidance with setting up and tuning the APM, I really don't think it would have been a success without his help and also to Stu for his expert monitoring.

I'm guessing I'll be doing a few more flights just like this one to get comfortable with the different modes and confident the RTL is going to work correctly and for extended periods of time. This is turning out to be a very exciting adventure.

My trusty co-pilot Harry helping to do pre-flights