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Bilingual NASA Chat: I'm a NASA Pilot (Yo Soy el Piloto por NASA)
September 23, 2010





Eta Página en Español → 

Herman Posada sits at the controls and flies his airplane. But he's not in the airplane! He's at a ground station miles away, using a joystick and video monitors to control the vehicle.

Herman is a NASA research pilot who flies unmanned aerial vehicles. These remotely piloted, full-scale aircraft are used more and more for research into advanced aeronautics systems and for capturing images and data in dangerous conditions such as wildfires or hurricanes.

NASA's Ikhana, an unmanned Predator B modified for non-military missions, carries instruments for environmental Earth science studies and is used for advanced aircraft systems research and technology development. The Global Hawk unmanned aircraft has been very busy this hurricane season, flown by Herman and another pilot into and above hurricanes to collect data.

On Thursday, September 23, Herman answered your questions in both English and Spanish about what it's like to fly these unique, full-scale aircraft. A transcript of the chat will be posted soon on this page.

More About Herman Posada

Herman Posada is a research pilot in the Flight Crew Branch at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif. He began his aviation career as a line mechanic and general aviation pilot. He flew a fixed-wing aircraft for Los Angeles traffic and aerial news organizations and piloted a number of other unmanned aerial vehicles, which took him on travel worldwide. He has more than ten years experience flying the Predator A MQ-1 and Predator B MQ-9 aircraft, including 300 hours as an instructor pilot. While Herman's parents are from Colombia, he was born and raised in Los Angeles, Calif.

More Information

Read a Feature About the Ikhana's Western States Fire Mission → 

Download the Ikhana e-Book → 

View Global Hawk Interactive and GRIP Mission Details → 

›  View Ikhana in Flight

Chat Transcript

Jason (Moderator): We're working on answering the first few questions. To ask your own, please type it in the box at the bottom of the window and click the 'Ask' button on the right side of the box. Thanks for your patience as we answer your questions. // Estamos trabajando para responder las primeras preguntas. Para hacer sus propias preguntas, por favor escríbalo en el cuadro en la parte inferioir de la ventana y haga clic en el boton 'Ask' ubicado en el lado derecho de la caja. Gracias por su paciencia en lo que respondemos a sus preguntas.

Irmamurillo: Hola, que tal?

Herman: Estoy bien gracias. \\ I'm fine thank you.

Irmamurillo: ¿Porqué fue importante realizar esta charla en los dos idiomas?

Herman: Porque es importante informar mas personas si te comunicas en Ingles y Espanol. \\ Because it is important to communicate in many languages to reach as many people as possible.

Jason(Moderator): We're working to answer your questions. Keep them coming! To submit your own questions, please type it in the box at the bottom of the window and click the 'Ask' button on the right side of the box. // Estamos trabajando para responder a sus preguntas. Hagalas! Para enviar su propia pregunta, por favor escríbalo en el cuadro en la parte inferior de la ventana y haga clic en el boton 'Ask' en el lado derecho de la caja.

Akarsh_Valsan: How can unmanned aerial systems be useful in the field of environment?

Herman: We are doing Earth science missions such as studying hurricanes and wildfires. An unmanned aircraft can often go to dangerous places where manned aircraft can't. \\ Estamos estudiando la ciencia de huracanes y encendios. Un avion sin piloto puede volar a lugares mas peligrosos que un avion con piloto no puede.

Tclopper: Do you have to account for magnetic declination when navigating the aircraft?

Herman: Yes, we do account for magnetic declination. \\ Si tenemos cuentas para declination magnetica.

Akarsh_Valsan: What do you feel when you control unmanned aerial vehicles from the Ground Control Station?

Herman: Obviously, I feel nothing since I am flying from the ground, but I put myself in the plane and treat it as if I was in the airplane. \\ Obiamente, no siento nada porque estoy in la tierra, pero me siento como si estuviera en el avion.

Akarsh_Valsan: Which was your favourite unmanned aircraft?

Herman: My favorite UAV is Ikhana since I have most of my experience in that plane. \\ Mi favorito es Ikhana porque en el tengo mas experiencia.

Achordj: How far does the aerial plane fly from you?

Herman: We can fly anywhere in the world. I can be in California and the plane can be thousands of miles away. \\ Podemos volar a cualquier lugar en el mundo, yo puedo estar en California y el avion puede estar a miles the kilometros.

Rodrigo: Para que tipo de misiones se utilizan los vuelos no tripulados? Qué ventajas tienen con respecto a los vuelos regulares?

Herman: Los utilizamos para volar a lugares que son muy peligros donde aviones regulares no pueden volar. \\ We utilize them to fly to dangerous places where regular airplanes can't fly.

Amustain: What are the dimensions of the Global Hawk? How long is the wingspan?

Herman: The Global Hawk is bigger than you think. The dimensions are 44ft long, 116 ft wing span, 15ft tall and 25600 lbs at takeoff. \\ El avion Global Hawk es mas grande de lo que imaginas. Las dimensiones son 44ft largo, 116 ft alas, 15ft alto y 25600 libras a la hora de el despegue.

Jason(Moderator): Do you have a question you've been waiting to ask? Go for it! To submit your own question, please type it in the box at the bottom of the window and click the 'Ask' button on the right side of the box. Thanks for your patience as we answer your questions. // Tiene una pregunta que ha estado esperando preguntar? ¡Hagala! Para enviar su propia pregunta, por favor escríbalo en el cuadro en la parte iferior de la ventana y haga clic en el boton 'Ask' en el lado derecho de la caja. Gracias por su paciencia en lo que respondemos a sus preguntas.

Lissette: Usan estos aviones para la guerra?

Herman: NASA usa estos aviones para estudios de ciencia y aeronautica. \\ NASA uses these airplanes to study science and aeronautics.

Linda_Fuhrman: Do you ever interact with the scientists directly, or learn about how your flights affect their research?

Herman: Yes, the scientists are in the same room with us giving us feedback on the mission. \\ Si, los cientificos estan en el mismo cuarto que nosotros y nos dan information acerca de la mision.

German: ¿Que piensas sobre los futuros vuelos no tripulados para el transporte aéreo de mercancias?

Herman: Es posible en el futuro, pero ahora no es posible porque no tenemos las regulaciones. \\ It will be possible in the future, but not for now, we don't have the regulations.

Achordj: What would you do if the computer crashes? Are you still able to control the plane?

Herman: The unmanned system has many redundancies. We have backups to the backups. \\ El avion no tripulado tiene muchas redondancias. No es problema.

Achordj: How are the planes powered?

Herman: Global Hawk uses jet fuel for its jet engine. Ikhana uses jet fuel for its turboprop.\\ Global Hawk usa especial gasolina para su turbina. Ikhana usa combustible para la turbina con elis.

Akarsh_Valsan: Have you ever felt any discomforts when you were controlling unmanned aircrafts?

Herman: Yes, funny you mentioned that; I sometimes "feel" turbulence in the UAV even though I am not in the vehicle. \\ Si, es gracioso que menciones eso; algunas veces "siento" turbulancia en el avion aun cuando yo no estoy en avion sin tripulacion.

Michal: What is the most interesting point of your research on hurricanes?

Herman: There is much data being gathered by the UAV, but for me the images of the hurricanes are incredible.\\ Hay mucho mas informacion recuperada por el avion, pero para mi las imagenes de los huracanes son increibles.

CarlosLuna: Como empezaste tu carrera? que estudiaste y como lograste llegar a donde te encuentras en este momento?

Herman: Yo empeze mi carrera volando aviones pequenos, estudie engenieria aeronautica y desdpues entrene en aviones sin tripulacion y vine a NASA para continuar mi carrera. \\ I started my career flying small planes, then I studied Aeronautical Engineering. I got trained to fly UAVs and started to work at NASA.

mocame23: Qué es lo que más te llama la atención de tener este trabajo tan interesante y que ayuda a tantas personas?

Herman: Lo que mas me gusta es que participo en la nueva technologia. \\ What I like the most is working with this new technology.

Jason (Moderator): We're working to answer your questions. The translations are taking us more time than expected. Thanks for your patience as we answer your questions. // Estamos trabajando para responder a sus preguntas. Traducción de la respuesta en el otro idioma se está llevando más tiempo. Gracias por su paciencia en lo respondemos a sus preguntas.

Medine: Can you use automatic pilot on these planes at the same time?

Herman: The airplane has an automatic pilot, but I am always at the controls. \\ El avion tiene un piloto automatico, pero yo siempre estoy en los controles.

Linda_Fuhrman: Do you get to choose which missions you fly?

Herman: No, I am assigned to fly missions with other pilots here. \\ No, yo soy assignado a volar con otros pilotos.

Kafooflash: Is it fun to fly an un-manned aircraft? Can you make air refueling with U.A.V ?

Herman: It is very exciting to fly the UAV. We cannot refuel in the air yet.

Linda_Fuhrman: What inspired you to become a pilot?

Herman: My parents took me to an air show and I was amazed by airplanes. \\ Mis padres me llevaron a una exposicion the aviones y me impresionaron mucho los aviones.

Joseph: Flying the unmanned aerial vehicles, do you have good visibility from the ground equipment, meaning more side views, 180 [degrees], or more?

Herman: We have forward visibility, but no side views. \\ Tenemos visibilidad de frente solamente, no de los lados.

Dell_Conagher: Is it more fun piloting a developmental new manned aircraft, or piloting a cutting-edge UAV?

Herman: I only fly UAV test flights and enjoy this new technology application. \\ Yo solo vuelo aviones sin piloto y disfruto mucho esta nueva technologia.

German: Este tipo de tecnologia , ¿A qué otros medios de locomoción, barcos, submarinos, etc. crees que puede ser aplicable?

Herman: Si, esta technologia se puede utlizar en todos los medios de transporte que son peligros o dificiles. \\ Yes, this technology can be utilized in all types of difficult or dangerous transport.

David: Is it the same technology that the military uses for its drones?

Herman: NASA is using the same type of UAVs as the military, but we use them for science and aeronautics. \\ NASA utiliza el mismo tipo de avion sin tripulacion pero los utiliza para sciencia y aeronautica.

Jason (Moderator): We're working to answer your great questions. Keep them coming! // Estamos trabajando para responder a sus excelentes preguntas. Hagalas!

Akarsh_Valsan: What will be the maximum speed of [unmanned] Aerial planes?

Herman: Ikhana's maximum speed is 230 knots. \\ La velocidad maxima de Ikhana es 230 knots.

Zsmithrwhs: Hola Herman, Cuanto cuesta un avion?

Herman: Hola, estamos muy contentos que estan aqui. El avion no tiene precio por el trabajo tan unico que hace. \\ Hi we are happy that you are here. The plane is priceless for the unique work it does.

Fire-1968: Herman, cuando vuela con el Ikhana tienen un plan de vuelo como los aviones comerciales o que hacen para no interferir dichos vuelos?, gracias

Herman: Nosotros coordinamos todos los vuelos igual que un avion regular y trabajamos con la Federacion de Aviacion. \\ We coordinate our flights with the FAA like other airplanes.

Zsmithrwhs: Cuanto tiempo debes entrenar para hacer este trabajo?

Herman: El minimo tiempo de entrenamiento para este avion es de 40 horas, pero yo estaba comfortable cuando pase 100 horas. \\ The minimum time for training was 40 hours, but I was comfortable when I passed 100 hours.

Akarsh_Valsan: Which is your forthcoming mission?

Herman: We are flying a tropical disturbance with the Global Hawk right now. I will be flying later tonight. \\ Estamos volando una tormenta con Global Hawk ahora mismo. Yo estare volando esta noche.

Medine: Are these vehicles been using only in earth's atmosphere or they are been using in space, too?

Herman: They are being used for Earth Science and Aeronautics. \\ Los estamos utilizando para sciencia y aeronautica de la tierra.

Jason (Moderator): We've got time for just a few more questions // Tenemos tiempo para apenas un par de preguntas más.

Zsmithrwhs: My students want to know where you can get the training?

Herman: I trained with the company that manufactured the airplane. Then flew for the military before I came to NASA. \\ Yo entrene con la compania que manufacturo el avion. Despues vole con el servicio militar antes de venir a NASA.

Dell_Conagher: From a piloting point of view, what are some disadvantages/advantages to flying a UAV?

Herman: Disadvantages - we cannot really "feel" the airplane. Advantages are that we can fly for long missions over difficult areas, for example Global Hawk is flying tonight for 26 hours. \\ Desventaja es que no puedo "sentir" el avion. Ventaja es que el avion puede volar por mucho tiempo en lugares muy dificiles. Por ejemplo Global Hawk volara por 26 horas esta noche.

Mrs._Ferree: How high does the unmanned aircraft go?

Herman: It depends on the mission. I have flown Ikhana as high as 40,000 ft. \\ Depende de la mision. Yo he volado Ikhana a una altitud de 40,000 ft.

Zsmithrwhs: Que clases en la escuela tu recomiendas tomar para prepararnos para seguir esta carrera?

Herman: Yo recomiendo que estudies matematicas, y despues ingenieria aeronautica. \\ I recommend that you study math, then continue with Aeronautical Engineering.

Medine: Which one is more enjoyable for you - "manned vehicles" or" unmanned vehicles"?

Herman: Unmanned. \\ Aviones sin tripulacion.

Jason (Moderator): Thanks Herman for the great answers to everyone's questions. And thanks for Carmen for help in typing those answers. We appreciate your taking time out of your day to sit down with us. Our chat is over. Thanks for participating. A transcript will be posted within 48 hours. // Gracias Herman por las respuestas a las excelentes preguntas de todos. Le agradecemos su tiempo y el haberce sentado con nosotros. Y un gran agradecimiento a Carmen por su ayuda en escribir las respuestas de Herman. Nuestra charla se ha acabado! Gracias por participar. Una transcripción estará disponible dentro de las 48 horas.

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Herman Posada standing in front of the Ikhana aircraft.
NASA unmanned aerial vehicle pilot Herman Posada.
Image Credit: 
NASA / Tony Landis
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Herman on duty in the unmanned aerial system's Ground Control Station.
Herman on duty in the unmanned aerial system's Ground Control Station.
Image Credit: 
NASA / Tony Landis
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Aerial view of the Ikhana vehicle on the runway.
The Ikhana being prepped for flight; its infrared imaging sensor pod is visible under the left wing.
Image Credit: 
NASA / Tony Landis
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Global Hawk in front of a hanger.
The unmanned aerial vehicle Global Hawk in its blue and white livery.
Image Credit: 
NASA / Tony Landis
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Page Last Updated: July 28th, 2013
Page Editor: Lillian Gipson