Kite Altitude World Record
September 2014 - A WORLD RECORD OF 16,009 ft. above ground level
Bob Moore - team leader
Michael Richards of Kite Magic - kite builder, kite flyer, kite festival man, juggler, unicycle rider, flag maker, solar car man. What can't he do?!!!!
Michael Jenkins, kite flyer, kite builder, winch driver and sailor
Roger Martin, kite builder, camera man, buggy man, laptop man, SpoungeBob Man.
All my team are great men, kite builders, flyers and kite experts.
Without them the record attempts would never have progressed beyond ground level and me talking about it..
Youtube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IG_Y9ESbS4c
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. What next? Train record, target 35,000 ft. or for you Wirt High School boys, 40,000ft. (:
I have 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.
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
Google Earth Track of kite on 22nd Sept.
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 Google earth screen shot from the Holux 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 arrow on left. The data is ported from Holux Easy tour software to Google Earth
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. The different shape of the curve is due to the dififfenrent aspect ratios of the images between the 2 software applications.
This was not much different to previous years. Our effort was the same. There were a few mods and enhancements to our equipment and strategy which I flagged at the end of the 2012 series these were a lot of small, but in some cases, very small improvements which made the data collection more secure with multiple GPS units and on-board backup data loggers. The weather played a big part. We were well prepared with 3 backups of every piece of equipment, kites, lines, and telemetry and data loggers. The latter proved crucial in having GPS evidence to submit to Guinness World records. 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 altitude at the lower end of its wind range.
The most important development 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 ready by 10am with the Turquoise black and white DT delta that had flown over 12,000 ft. on the previous day. 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 rapidly and brought the kite back well before last light. We did observe that the kite's wings bend back a lot when under power. We decided then and there to install a second spreader about 50 cm below the existing spreader.
Festival of the Winds at Bondi Beach Pavilion function room and I do a screen presentation of the record attempts. The Australian KiteFliers Society had a reward ceremony where we displayed out Australian Book Of Records certificates and the AKS award. The Guinness World Recod certificate (above) came later.