Surveillance Planes Designed at BYU Soaring High

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PROVO, Utah (AP) -- Brigham Young University students are soaring to new heights as they build small unmanned surveillance planes that could one day be used on the battlefield.

Last month, a five-minute video featuring the planes won a national competition sponsored by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. The BYU-built planes beat out engineering teams from Boeing, NASA and Lockheed Martin, as well as teams from several universities, including Stanford and Georgia Tech.

The planes could also be used one day in search-and-rescue operations or to track forest fires. They weigh only three pounds and have a wingspan of under five feet.

In the video, the planes, which look like boomerangs, fly inches above the ground, through tight canyons and within a breath of each other.

Professor Tim McClain, who oversaw the project, says his students won the contest because they weren't afraid to take risks.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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