Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Aerospace Engineering


Aerospace Engineering

Committee Chair

Professor Charles Eastlake

Committee Member

Dr. James Ladesic

Committee Member

Dr. Albert Helfrick


The incredible cost of prototype flight testing can be a very limiting factor in the optimization of new designs as they proceed from the drawing board to the flight line. The use of low-cost scaled models to predict full-scale prototype performance is the focus of this project. It will be shown that by strictly following geometric and dynamic scaling criteria, the scaled aircraft's flight performance can be predictably related to the full-scale aircraft's performance. Many companies have performed scaled flight-testing of Remotely Piloted Vehicles (RPV's) and there is much speculation as to the results of these tests, but non-proprietary information about low-cost, scaled flight-testing is rare. The focus of the project at hand, therefore, is to compare the in-flight performance characteristics of a 1/3-scale flying "prototype" to the in-flight performance characteristics of a well-known full-scale flying "prototype," a 1986 Cessna 172P. Much flight testing has been done by ERAU's department of Aerospace Engineering on the 1986 172P so that using this aircraft as the model for determining the validity of the scaling hypotheses is obvious. The author, with the aid of students from capstone design classes at ERAU, "designed" and constructed a 1/3-scale replica 172 as the flying test-bed from which a series of future scaled prototype projects will draw vital conceptual and procedural ideas. The model 172 will be flown by remote control and will have an array of on-board sensors to collect information about key flight characteristics. Along with the on-board data acquisition system and real-time display ground base, the sub-scale aircraft also has a real-time video/audio link to the ground to allow the pilot to fly maneuvers using the same flight cues as they would if in the real aircraft.