In our search for the new and interesting at Sun 'n Fun today, we found a fascinating little gadget that could make flight testing a whole lot simpler. The Wingbug is a a self-contained ADAHRS designed to mount like an exterior camera to the wing of any airplane, transmitting data on airspeed, altitude, AOA, and attitude to an iPad in the cockpit.
Data can be displayed on a virtual six-pack of gauges, and at the same time, recorded for later use. Originally conceived to back up aircraft instruments, provide instrumentation for a simple aircraft, and help to debrief training flights, we look at it as a potential breakthrough for test flying experimental aircraft.
It's fairly common these days to rely on an aircraft's EFIS to record flight test data during Phase 1, but this can be problematic if you have not yet calibrated the pitot-static system so that airspeed and altitude is known to be accurate.
The Wingbug can solve this by being mounted out on the wing where it resides in fairly reliable clean air. This can help with initial calibration of the aircraft for Phase 1 - or for magazine pilots working to evaluate a new airplane and establish good baseline data on an aircraft's performance. Gone are the days of pencils on Kneeboard, or cameras trained on instrument panels - the Wingbug should give you good data for post-flight analysis.
We hope to test the Wingbug in an upcoming article in Kitplanes - and if it proves to live up to its promise, it might become a regular "ride-along" for evaluation flights in the future.
Watch the video by Tim Cole/AVweb: