If you’ve watched Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, you can never forget the iconic scene where the rebels use their ships’ harpoons to trip up a couple of giant AT-AT walkers by flying through and around the machines’ legs.
While it would take years to recreate such a large scale battle with real death machines, the guys at FliteTest have instead decided to work something a little smaller. Using a couple of redesigned drones, they plan to fly through a foam board AT-AT’s legs and trip the darn thing:
To start off, the team cuts up pieces of foam board and glues them together to form the shell of the AT-AT. While the body of the walker is meant to be static, the legs are made up of individual pieces.
Two legs are tied to a pushrod mechanism so as they move forward, the tightness of the snowspeeder’s string wrapping around them will cause the walker to topple to the side.
While the AT-ATs are out getting painted, the others work on designing a couple of tiny drones. They cut the base snowspeeder outline on a Styrofoam plate before adding the extra details such as the cockpit and cowlings.
To make the snowspeeder actually fly, they have to sacrifice some of the design and cut out holes so more air can flow through the propellers. Add in a few more details and a tiny camera in the front and the rebel ship is ready to go!
Getting back to the AT-AT walkers, the team paints and stencils on the final decals to make them look like menacing machines. Though thee walkers were made, only the biggest one has the built-in leg mechanism which will make it fall.
With the snowspeeders and AT-ATs completed, it’s time for some flying! They start with a couple of test runs and as soon as the pilots have gotten a handle of their ships, they start their approach on the large AT-AT.
Just like in the movie, the cable (or string, in this instance) starts restricting the AT-ATs movements as it gets tighter and tighter. Eventually, the legs can’t take any more and the walker topples down… along with the snowspeeder drone!
While Luke Skywalker and the rebels were able to release their harpoons in the film, this drone doesn’t have a detaching mechanism. So even if you can technically take out a walker with the drone, it’s going to be a one-way trip for whoever flies it.
FliteTest’s YouTube channel has tons more videos dedicated to flying machines. Fictional ships, drones, planes – if it can get off the ground, chances are you’ll find it here.