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Project Leelyn Drone Prototype 1 (prototype)

Project Leelyn Drone Prototype 1 one passesnger eVTOL multicopter prototype aircraft


Prototype 1 (prototype)
Project Leelyn Drone
Diamond Bar, California, USA

On September 20, 2021, Alan Zhang and 17 of his high school classmates in Diamond Bar, California, USA, decided to build one passenger electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) multicopter aircraft. The name of the high school organization is called Project Leelyn Drone. The goal of Project Leelyn Drone is for their organization to become the first youth team to build a passenger carrying eVTOL multicopter aircraft. The student's financial goal was to raise $25,000.00 USD for the project. (Image credit: Project Leelyn Drone)

The team has really worked hard on this project. Here are some of the many things the students have done to accomplish their goals.

  • Sketched drones
  • Used CAD software to design subscale prototype drones and the full-scale prototype drone
  • Learned to work as a team
  • Learned soldering techniques
  • Learned basics of electronics
  • Learned and used 3D printers to make the components of the multicopters
  • Learned laser cutting for drone components
  • Learned how to use many types of hand and power tools
  • Learned how to fly drones using simulator software
  • Learned how to flying actual small drones
  • Made subscale and a full-scale prototype drones
  • Made calculations for thrust and payload
  • Did stress testing of components
  • Learned how to fund raise and promote the project
  • Learned drone balance
  • Learned how to inventory parts
  • Learned the flight controller system
  • Learned engineering and calculations
  • And more

Prototype 1 passenger eVTOL multicopter aircraft
The Prototype 1 is a one passenger eVTOL multicopter aircraft that has an open cockpit and an open framed fuselage. The high school student team flew drones in a simulator as well as designed and constructed small subscale drones to practice making a drone. The full-scale prototype was finished on August 8, 2022. However, it is unknown if the aircraft actually flew. Alan Zhang made the comment that scaling up from a small drone is more difficult than it sounds.

The aircraft was made to hold one passenger and either flown by a pilot or use an autopilot feature. It was estimated the aircraft would have a flight time of 25-30 minutes and could carry a maximum payload weight of 180 lb (82 kg). The aircraft had eight propellers, eight electric motors and used batteries to power the aircraft. The team made an X shape with metal beams which held a set of stacked propellers on th end of the structure of the X beams. The aircraft had a roll-bar cage for the pilot but pictures cannot be found of a pilot's seat on the aircraft. The fixed quadricycle strut landing gear. The size of the drone allowed it to fit in any standard garage.

Alan Zhang graduated from high school in 2022 and then continued his drone research when he started at the University of Berkeley. Zhang enrolled in the UC Berkeley Management, Entrepreneurship, & Technology (M.E.T.) program and continues to make passenger eVTOL multicopter aircraft.


  • Aircraft type: Passenger eVTOL multicopter prototype aircraft
  • Piloting: 1 person or full autopilot capability
  • Cruise speed: Unknown
  • Flight time (goal): 25-30 minutes
  • Maximum payload weight: 180 lb (82 kg)
  • Propellers: 8 propellers
  • Electric motors: 8 electric motors
  • Power source: Battery packs
  • Thrust: 280 kg (617 lb)
  • Fuselage: Aircraft aluminum
  • Cockpit: Open cockpit
  • Landing gear: Fixed quadricycle strut landing gear
  • Safety features: Distributed Electric Propulsion (DEP) means having multiple propellers (or electric ducted fans) and multiple electric motors on an aircraft so if one or more propellers (or electric ducted fans) or some electric motors fail, the other working propellers (or electric ducted fans) and electric motors can safely land the aircraft. DEP provides safety through redundancy for passengers or cargo. There are also redundancies of critical components in the sub-systems of the aircraft providing safety through redundancy. Having multiple redundant systems on any aircraft decreases having any single point of failure. The aircraft has no moving surfaces or tilting parts when transitioning from vertical to forward flight and the reverse which increases safety by reducing complexity.

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