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Above: We flew to 4,000 ft on day 4, 29th April 2005. From the ground track you can see the wind shifted from about east to east-south-east. This is common. It is unusual for wind to remain from the same direction throughout the height profile. The wind profile below reflected the flight mostly but there are differences because the flight was between 10 am and 2 pm. The balloon Sonde was run at 0915 - 0930 within our height range and is also 40 km away. You can see why the kite did not go beyond 5,000 ft above sea level. The wind starts drop and by 7,000 ft is below the lift threshold.
Day 1 above, shows a series of attempted launches with the heights reached on the back of the winching speed with no sustainable wind alof. Innevitably the kite would come back down. Often it would end up in the scrub, the line draped through trees and bushes. Each long launch took half an hour then half an hour to extract from the scrub. Just like floggiong a dead horse especially in hot dudty conditions.
Day 1 and Nancy Shannahan captures the crew and the farmer with the local children from surrounding properties.
L - R: Hugh Moore, David Moore, Greg Moore, Bob Moore, Steve Viant, Michael Richards, Roger Martin. Mike Richards did an impromtu kite making session and the chidren hold them aloft.
October 2005 - Heat, flies and dust, oh and we flew some kites as well.
This was the one and only year when we had 2 series of attempts. I was anxious to get on with the record attempts as I had made significant changes to the winch and had improved everything in lots of ways. The only thing that remained the same was the kite which was almost perfect from the start. We did not stay at Cable Downs which came on the 2009 series but we stayed at Cobar caravan park. The down side was we started flying relatively late each day partly because we needed to drop into the weather station to obtain the sonde flight data and partly because we had a 40 km trip and needed to set up on the strip. The trailer and kite gear stayed on the air strip overnight. We could obtain the report by phone but it was good to get a more detailed report first hand plus the mobile reception was unreliable. It wasn't until 2007 that I solved the phone communication with a Telstra 3g flip phone with an external aerial socket and 4 metre mast. The kite flying was very problematic due to lack of wind. The black kite was lost on our last day while just Greg and I remained on the strip and Roger, Michael and Hugh returned to Sydney due to work commitments. I will continue the account of our flights with the Australian Atmospheric Soundings wind graphs along with the GPS data to correlate the flights with the wind. A picture can be worth a thousand words.
This wind profile shows the difficulty of flying the kite through "soft" layers. The green trace indicates a 2,500-ft. thick zone from 2,500 to 5,000 ft. Also from 6,000 ft. to 10,000 ft. the wind speed remains at 14 knots. In effect this is a 13% decrease in wind energy as the air density drops with altitude. There is also an increase in line weight and drag so the kite would probably struggle until 11,000 ft even if it could get through the 2,500 - 5,000 ft zone.
The wind profile above on October 5th was very similar to the one below on October 6th. It show low winds at ground increasing at 3,00 ft then dropping to 4,000. The rapid rise after 4,000 ft would support high faltitude flights but is get from ground to 1,500 ft and from 3,500 to 4,500 ft would difficult.
This was the end of a 4,000 ft flight that saw us flying with an eagle. It's a perfect 3 point landing on a high, dry and dusty field. The next flight saw the kite line break due to innatention at the winch and it drifted off somewhere in dense bush about 25 km to the east past the mine railway. It had a beep transmitter/tracker but we lost the signal when it went below tree height.
Greg was 29 when he came to Cable Downs. His mechnical knowledge was passed on to me as I redesigned the winch several times. Here he is listening to the high pitched line vibration.
Mike Richards in his Kite Magic workshop in the Eastern Sydney suburb of Coogee. An expert kite builder and flyer, he was a key factor in the success of the record attempts. He built all the kites.
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Struggling to get some altitude in a light south westerly breeze. This is a line release and winch reverse operation like a giant version of tugging on the kite line. In this flight we didn't go beyond a few tthousand feet. No matter how good the kite and winch are and how clever a kite flyer you are, enough wind is essential.
Roger brought his kite powered buggy to fill in the time when there is little kite activity, he uses a steerable parafoil kite of about 4 sq. metres. The bushes in the background are the "woody weed" I often talk about. In the first few years of attempts this growth was restricting our launches to a narrow stip. In 2008 the land either side of the air strip was cleared of woody weed and it enabled much more flexible launches and lower line sags. The trees were retained which were scattered medium height gums. This is at the end of a 5 year drought. Which are become more frequent and prolonged in Australia’s inland areas. This is a dry land sheep station which should carry 10,000 head but manages 2,500 at best if there are 4 years of average or above average rainfall. The woody weed is a significant factor in the loss of productivity in these regions, particularly on the Cobar peneplain. For me, the high altitude kite flying was the primary reason for coming here but on the way to the record I learned a lot about what the farmers have to endure in a harsh landscape.
Kite Altitude World Record