Look Ma, No hands, No feet

 - September 13, 2006, 7:13 AM

Boeing has flown its Unmanned Little Bird (ULB) technology demonstrator without a safety pilot for the first time.

The modified MD 530F lifted off from a Mesa, Ariz. helipad, hovered briefly and flew a programmed reconnaissance mission around the proving ground. After the 20-minute flight, the aircraft returned to the helipad and landed within six inches of the planned recovery location.

Before the fully unmanned flight, Boeing’s ULB Demonstrator had flown more than 450 hours of engineering flight tests with a pilot aboard. The company’s ultimate aim is to create an operational unmanned aerial vehicle.