Kite Altitude World Record
Dyneema®, the world’s strongest fiber™
September 2014 - A WORLD RECORD OF 16,038 ft.
This is the image from the Holux GPS data logger and when connected to a laptop running Windows 7 is displayed in Holux Ezitour software. It is a horizontal track of the kite on 220914. To give some perspective to this satellite image, the launch point near the centre of the Cable Downs airstrip in the RH top. The strip is 1.2 km long so the horizontal distance to the kite was about 10km. We used about 11.5 km of line.
Above is the vertical track of the kite as recorded by the Holux GPS data logger on Monday 22/09/14. The maximum altitude above sea level was 13408 ft. The altitude for record purposes is above the launch point so that height, 630 ft , needs to be deducted to give 12,778 ft AGL (above ground level). The time is in UTC (Universal Time Clock or Greenwich time) and 10 hours needs to be added to give local time. You can see we ran out of time by 5pm to attempt to work the kite higher.
This a screen shot from the Hoxux GPS data logger which was on the kite during the record flight, September 23rd 2014. The blue track on the satellite image shows the launch point on the right and max altitude with red arrorrow on left.
12620 metres of line was used with about 200 metres left on the storage reel.
The maximum altitude recorded is 16,653 ft above sea level or 16,023 ft above the launch point as the launch point is 630 metres above sea level. Keen observers may note that this is 15 ft lower than the altitude reported from the GPSFlight telemetry in our first record breaking reports in emails and social media. These reports were based on the GPSFlight data and the altitudes claimed are yet to be ratified by AKA or Guinness as of 10th October 2014. Surveyor comparisons to official survey datum points have been performed and GPSFlight or Holux data will be used depending on which unit is most accurate. Calculations show that the GPS devices used for the record breaking have about 0.09% accuracy over that height.
The same data as above but directly ported to MSExcel and graphed. The altitude data is in meters above ground level as compiled directly in Holux GPS data logger. Note the time in column 7 showing a brief unit test at 7.37 am. The flight start time was around 9.15 am.
This was not much different to previous years. Our effort was the same. There were a few mods and enhancements to our equipment and stratefy. The weather played a big part. We were well prepared with 3 backups of every piece of equipment, kites, lines, telemetry and data loggers. The one ace up our sleeve was the adoption of a second spreader. It gave the kite at least 20% more power in winds over 10 knots. The extra weight only effected the kite's attitude at the lower end of it's wind range.
Early was the double spreader. I had tested double spreaders on my 16 sq metre DT delta in 2005. I came to no clear conclusions but it was a strategy we had discussed a few times. After 2012 we decided that we should try the spreader during our next series of attempts. The flight on 22nd September 2014 convinced us that we had to try a second spreader.
On Monday 22nd September 2014 we prepared for flight and as usual this took over 2 hours but we were redy by 10am. A steady 12 knot breeze was blowing from the east. The kite rose rapidly to 6,000 ft then it was a steady climb to 9,000 ft with the tension gauge hovering around 30 - 50 lbs, occasionally dropping below 20 lbs. It was taking more time than I liked and it looked like at the rate of climb we would run out of time before we needed to reel the line back. The kite struggled to go from 11,000 to 12,778 ft and then it was all done. We reeled in rapidy, bringing the kite in before last light
We needed to have an effective means of communicating with air traffic control 600 km away to activate and close the zone on a daily basis. This required a special long range aerial and a mast to guarantee signal strength. This mast was also used to attach a Yagi aerial to receive the GPS signal from the kite. There are a bunch of wires on the ground around the winch trailer. The laptop is setup in the front of Mikes 4 x 4 as the laptop screen can't be viewed outdoors. We have to careful not to trip over these wires. A generator chugs away 20 meters away. This supplies the winch motor, line layering motor, laptop, jugs and cell phone chargers. It a dry zone and a red clinging dust rises with each step. Everything gets coated with dust after a few days. The Australian outback sun burns quickly and we have to have a thick layer of sunscreen. Hats are mandatory. Fortunately the fly numbers are down this year so we don't have to apply repellent or wear face screens dangling from our hats.
On day 1, Monday 22nd September we launched or big DT delta about 10am then got the kite to a respectable altitude of 12,778 ft above ground level. This took about 9 hours. We can only fly from first light to last light each day.
The GPS measures altitude from mean sea level then we need to deduct the ground level to determine height above the launch point. The wind seemed good but the kite seemed to lack the pull required to punch it past the record. Jesse Gerensen,, a high flyer from Czech republic, phoned through wind predictors earlier that day. He has been following our attempts for nearly 2 years.
That night we decided to fit a second spreader to power up the kite. Conditions were predicted to be the same on Tuesday 23rd so any differences in performance were likely due to the 2nd spreader.
On Tuesday 23rd after fitting the 2nd spreader we headed off to the air strip to prepare the kite and instruments for launch. It was a test flight for the extra spreader but if it flew better than the previous day then we would just go for it.
At about 8,20 am we launched in a 15 knot wind. The kite rose quickly to 500 ft then it had sufficient grunt to pull line off the reel. It was already pulling much harder and flying at a very high angle. We let the kite have it's head. "Go you good thing" "Throw line at it" was Michael Richard's catch cry. It pulled line off the reel rapidly and went up at 70 - 50 degrees until it hit 10,000 ft in 1 hour 15 min. By then it had flown above the first level of cloud at 6,000 to 7,000 ft. It became increasingly difficult to view the kite because it was obscured by cloud and by 10,000 ft we had given up looking for it with our binoculars and large telescope. The primary method of tracking the kite is GPS telemetry which consists of a GPS receiver and radio transmitter on the kite and a ground receiver connect to a laptop computer. The kite's positional coordinates and altitude are displayed on the laptop screen. A backup GPS telemetry data logger is in the same insulated box as the GPS telemetry unit. The batteries for the telemetry are enclosed in a styrofoam box to insulate against temperatures that may be as low as -20 deg. C. The batteries will last up to 54 hours, The data logger's battery charge is good for 12 hours. The accuracy of the GPS units is within 20 ft for position and 30 ft for altitude and mostly much better than that.
These units were compared and verified against a fixed survey datum by a registered surveyor. A manual log was kept by Roger who also observed the laptop screen, calling out the altitude at regular intervals. Roger kept the log each 10 minutes which recorded, line out, altitude and horizontal distance from the launch point. We also recorded line angle and kite angle where possible. The farm owners were present during the kite's ascent from 15,000 ft through to record altitude and the early stages of retrieval. The time to 16,038 ft was only 3 hour 43 minutes. Getting the kite back took a little more time but up and back was less than 8 hours. We were very happy, jumping for joy and cheering. It has been an effort of patience and perseverance over 10 years. We reflected on our efforts that night over beer and wine. We are mighty pleased. I had a moderate amount of sponsorship including DSM Dyneema in Holland in conjunction with Cousin-Trestec of France, Kite Magic in Sydney, Universal Instruments of Sydney, TECO electric motors and Lewis Pulleys of Sydney. Without this assistance the kite record could not have been broken.
Since the record I have been busy trying to maximise media exposure for our achievement plus organising the record verification with AKA and Guinness. We are hoping to generate sponsorship so we can properly attack the 95 year old train record.
In the meantime it's back to reality with work and family, lawn mowing, washing dishes. From sublime to mundane. Such is life.
What next? Train record, target 35,000 ft or for you Wirt High School boys, 40,000ft. (:
I will update the site as we progress with the train record preparation and attempts.
As of 9/01/2018 this is the current status:
Four 3.4 sq metre DT Deltas have been made with 8 more as backup kites to be constructed.
Target is 20,000 ft agl (above ground level) for this test train.
Some line has been purchased, 80lb, 150lb, 180lb.
Current stock of 200lb, 250 lb and 300 lb lines should be sufficient.
Tasline, New Zealand is helping with technical advice, line testing and may supply some of the lines for the train record attempts.
Cousin-Trestec in France are providing quotes on line prices. Top quality line but high prices I suspect.
No response from DSM Dyneema for further sponsorship.
Request for sponsorship declined by Twinline USA. Very high quality and impecable business ethics may justify purchasing lines in the future.
Toyobo in Japan have ended their licence agreement with DSM Dyneema and have developed their own fibre. IZANAS. I have requested sponsorship 2 years ago but was asked to reaply when they had finalised their relationship with DSM Dyneema. I will persue this carefully and vigorously now they have stand alone fibre products.
Chinese companies have been difficult to get any information about manufacturing custom lines or their quality assurance methods. I am very wary of dealing with any Chinese line suppliers because of bad past experiences and lack of clarity with their specifications, quality assurance and strength claims.
Jarvis Walker, and Australia fishing equipment and line wholesaler has declined requests for sponsorship.
Large purchases of ripstop nylon cloth and fibreglass tubes have been made in preparation for construction of kites for testing and the record attempts.
Additional GPS dataloggers have been purchased including HOLUX, TRIPMATE and CANMORE.
Dave Thompson from PC Anytime in New Zealand has been engaged to troubleshoot problems with GPS telemetry units. He is also assembling kit GPS telemetry units from eggfinder in the USA. He may also help with prototyping some mechatronics for enhanced kite performance and additional on-board data collection. He is the Serviceman from Silicon Chip magazine.
Cable Downs owner has not responded to requests to use his air field as the location of the trsin record flights.
National Parks and Wildlife have been contacted in regard to using one of their western NSW parks as a location to attempt the train record. Three parks are within 150 km of the Cable Downs site but the favored site is Gundabooka, south west of Bourke and about 60 km north east of Cable Downs, where we set the World record for a single kite. There is a an airfiel near the Belah shearers quarters where tourist accommodation has been established. This is an ideal site although it is a long way to travel from Sydney, it is about 30 km closer than Cable Downs.
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Last updated 09/01/2018