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Insitu Aerosonde Laima

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Insitu Aerosonde under license by Environmental Systems and Services.
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Named Laima, after the ancient Latvian deity of good fortune. This little plane set a record by flying across the Atlantic without a pilot -- 71 years after Lindbergh's historic solo flight. On August 21, 1998, Laima became the first unmanned aircraft to cross the North Atlantic. The crossing was completed within 15 minutes of schedule after a flight of 2,044 miles in a time of 26 hours and 45 minutes.

Launched under manual control from a car roof rack at Bell Island Airport in Newfoundland, Canada, at 9:59 UTC on August 20, 1998, Laima was soon switched to the pre-programmed autonomous flight. Flying a route slightly to the south of the great circle route at an altitude of 5,511 feet, the Lamia headed for the landing site at Royal Air Force DERA Benbecual Range in the Outer Hebrides Islands of Scotland. Contacting the landing crew at 12:15 UTC the craft was brought in to land under manual control a half an hour later.

Aerosondes are designed to collect data over the ocean, where weather stations are few and far between. Their measurements of temperature, pressure, humidity, and wind within the atmosphere complement the "big picture" data provided by satellites. Someday Aerosondes may circulate regularly on weather-reconnaissance flights between Hawaii, Alaska, and the mainland. The information they gather will often allow improved weather forecasting for the West Coast.