Sunday, October 28, 2007

Abe Karem and His World Record Helo

The Boeing (because it bought Karem’s company, Frontier) UAV helo called the ‘Hummingbird’ just set a new record for unrefueled helicopter flight endurance.

12.1 Hours!!!!

And it didn’t even use its max fuel capacity.

This system’s success means the world will have to rethink what exactly a helo can and cannot do.

I’ve been following this project for quite a while. I’ve followed it because the inventor Abe Karem made a huge impression on me when my old unit was helping test one of his earlier UAV designs, Project Amber (we called it the ‘Albatross’). While you may never have heard of it, you’ve probably heard of its descendents: the Predator and now the Reaper.

In the 80’s, I was a fly on the wall for about 15 minutes that seemed like an hour once when Karem was in our shop telling one of our engineers what we could do to get a few more easy knots out of our XBQM-106As.
Everything about Karem struck me as him being an “Aero’s Aero”- I swear the man can visualize pressure gradients, airflow and drag.

Note: For the curious, the closest (not very) to accurate info about the -106A out there is probably here.

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