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Hi-Performance and Sailplanes RC hotliners, electric pylon racers, F5B, F5D, sailplanes and gliders

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Old 01-09-2009, 03:42 PM   #1
cynic
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Default Super high altitude (100,000+ feet) glider

This is just a shot in the dark but I thought I'd ask.

I've built and launched a high altitude sounding balloon complete with a telemetry system and camera system that works like a champ.

http://icbnn.wordpress.com/2009/01/02/launch/
My favorite pictures are:

I have kicked around the idea of launching a glider from altitude using my tracking system with an altitude based parachute deployment to keep the plane from landing in Europe

I have also toyed with the idea of using some sort of a small rocket motor to boost the plane even higher.

My initial thought is I just can't do it because I would need:
A wing design that would work, which may be a problem as maximum mach number and minimum controllable airspeed collide.

A super light design with the ability to carry a small payload.

But I thought.... what the heck. Dig around on the Internet and maybe find a forum with a bunch of sail plane guys and ask.

Any thoughts?

Thanks!

Don
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Old 01-10-2009, 03:23 AM   #2
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At that altitude you'll probably need FAA permission as well. You may be planning to launch your glider well above the level of commercial flight, but it will eventually desend to this level and become a possible hazard, even if it is under your control.

Just my $0.02

"Give a man a plane and he'll fly for a day.
Teach a man to build a plane and he'll fly for a lifetime"
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Old 01-10-2009, 08:19 AM   #3
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Sounds like a pretty cool idea though. But maybe just go with the balloon and lawn chair thing and hand launch the plane that way you have eyes on the whole time...LOL
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Old 01-10-2009, 01:40 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by FlyWheel View Post
At that altitude you'll probably need FAA permission as well. You may be planning to launch your glider well above the level of commercial flight, but it will eventually desend to this level and become a possible hazard, even if it is under your control.

Just my $0.02
True if they launch over land. Alot of guys travel out in the ocean and do these things where restrictions are less.


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Old 01-10-2009, 02:44 PM   #5
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Wow, that was amazing stuff!

Frank

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Old 01-10-2009, 07:39 PM   #6
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The radio - even 2.4ghz won't work until it gets really close to you from that altitude...

I don't see how you could do it at all..

Good luck..

Better go with a carbon fiber glider or it will not survive the turbulence, or winds, or the flight at all.

If you figure it out - post it here!
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Old 01-10-2009, 09:02 PM   #7
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I have no plan to control the thing from the ground. I'd be looking to fix the flight surfaces for a best glide (least amount of induced and parasitic drag) and just launch the glider with plans to kick out a parachute at some altitude between 100,000 and 70,000 feet. From there it would drop down as a payload to be picked up. I would use my tracking system to find it.
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Old 01-10-2009, 09:05 PM   #8
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I think what you are doing is a bad idea. You are putting things in high altitude with no control what so ever. Now you want to put a RC ship up with it. This can be a hazard to plane traffic and can give the RC community a very bad reputation. RC is line of sight. Let me ask you this. When you balloon is in high altitude do you have any control? I'm sure chances are slight that what you are doing would cause a accident but the possibility is there. Things like this is what can really bring the FAA down on the RC community really hard. I really don't like to say things like this but if you are going to do this it would be best to keep it to yourself and keep it out of RC forums.

Takeoffs are optional. Landings are mandatory.

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Old 01-10-2009, 09:15 PM   #9
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The regulations are here: http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/cgi/t/text...1.3.15&idno=14

And of course I followed them
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Old 01-10-2009, 11:31 PM   #10
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Hey if there are regs and you are following them good for you.

Takeoffs are optional. Landings are mandatory.

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Old 01-11-2009, 12:31 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by cynic View Post
I have no plan to control the thing from the ground. I'd be looking to fix the fight surfaces for a best glide (least amount of induced and parasitic drag) and just launch the glider with plans to kick out a parachute at some altitude between 100,000 and 70,000 feet. From there it would drop down as a payload to be picked up. I would just use my tracking system to find it.

No R/C, so what most of us think of as a no-no, doesn't apply. (I didn't read the regs link you posted yet) I would suggest looking at some of the competition FF methods and designs.
http://www.faifreeflight.org/index.p...=1107&Itemid=2

the problems I see with a fix wing heavier than air (or any heavier than air) craft for this is how to power it to the altitude. The only way I can think is to boost to altitude with solid propellant and have the glider be either cargo, or variable geometry wings that deploy at apogee. I think the experiance you'll find on these pages aren't really going to help much.(IMHO) Also, I'd be concerned about efficient airfoils at that altitude vs lower, your trim settings may change every so many density factors, so 'set and forget' just won't work.

thanks for posting at least, I never realized this was done from a hobby perspective, and I love your photos!!!!
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Old 01-11-2009, 01:03 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by cynic View Post
The regulations are here: http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/cgi/t/text...1.3.15&idno=14

And of course I followed them

I didn't read it either. Short answer is that you were legal to do the balloon thing?

It certainly does look like an awesome project.

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Old 01-11-2009, 03:19 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by MaxAdventure View Post
thanks for posting at least, I never realized this was done from a hobby perspective, and I love your photos!!!!
Thanks for the link... I found a free flight forum and that may be a more appropriate place to start asking questions.

The entire project can be done with off the shelf electronics and just a little programming and for about $700.00


The snippet of regs that would apply is: § 101.1 Applicability. (a) This part prescribes rules governing the operation in the United States, of the following:
<snip>

(4) any unmanned free balloon that—
(i) Carries a payload package that weighs more than four pounds and has a weight/size ratio.... blah blah blah

(ii) Carries a payload package that weighs more than six pounds;

As long as your payload is pretty small and light (under 4lbs) and you use common sense (like maybe don't launch in the parking lot at the airport its plenty safe and legal.

You might check out the cell phone GPS backup I used. Works like a champ. It was about $180.00 and the battery lasts 48 hours. If you call the number it will SMS text you the GPS location. So if you lose your airplane in the trees you can have some help finding it.

Thanks again and have fun.
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Old 01-11-2009, 05:13 AM   #14
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I have a friend in my unit who is our weather forcaster, on any given day we need his data he will put up at least 1 balloon (200g) every 2 hrs with radiosonde, with or with out a chute, as well as the rest of the train, a majority of them are launched at Ft. Lewis Wa. as well as other areas within the Pacific NW, yes we are the military however, most of the time he needs no cleareance to do so. I spoke to him about your idea and he is very interested, I am going to pass him your info on this board perhaps you two can get together online sometime. I still like the idea of lawn chair with balloons hand launch, don't forget the bb gun.
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Old 01-12-2009, 12:07 AM   #15
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Cynic:

Can you send me a PM?

I am getting ready to do something like this.

Suman
Lawrence KS
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Old 05-15-2010, 03:53 PM   #16
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Hey, cynic!
Seems t' me I saw something about this project somewhere else, and I heartily approve!
B/M'd your blog an' will be MOST interested in th' Vids.
Good t' see you here.
RD
Montross, Va.
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Old 05-19-2010, 07:49 PM   #17
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And again someone new from outside the pale comes in and shows us that no matter what experts we fancy ourselves, our accomplishments have just been squished like a cockroach on the kitchen floor:
Hey, my altimeter shows 1500 feet on my last sailplane flight from a 450 foot launch! Mondo cool!!!!!!
Then we get to read this, watch awesome video and photos, see a Google Earth plot of a flight ten miles high and a craft chased for 123 miles as the crow flies, precision snatched from a treetop in the trackless Florida jungle.

Yeah, we can all go home with our tails between our legs now. Shut down WattFlyer. No need to lock the door. Nothing worth stealing here anyway...

No, really, even though we can't seem to be much help, I'd appreciate it if you could use this thread to keep us posted on your future activities.

I think any free flight plane you put up there would end up in Africa somewhere. It would have to be self-piloting because no existing radio control equipment has that kind of range and you couldn't see the plane anyway. As long as you were above the jet stream, assuming you could do anything other than fall like a rock in that thin stuff that passes for air up there, you would have to program as flat a glide toward the west as you could, then dive through the jet stream as fast as you could, and resume gliding westward.

It's possible that a combination of GPS and gyro technology could make all this possible, along with radio control servos. The plane itself would have to be incredibly strong and have high speed/low drag but decent glide ratio. It wouldn't have to be a sailplane by any stretch of the imagination with that kind of altitude to burn off. Wind penetration, strength and speed would be the qualities you would want to optimize. I would envision a stretch-wing space shuttle type vehicle.

When it got near the ground you probably would want remote piloting capability to choose a landing site better than a tree!
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Old 05-19-2010, 08:20 PM   #18
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As cynic mentiones, the hardest part of the design may be the conflict between minimum flying speed and limiting mach number. The same issue that means, for instance, the U2 spy plane is flying on a knife edge between structural failure due to exceeding it's limiting mach number and stalling due to falling below it's minimum flying speed in the thin air.

You would either need to build very light to reduce flying speed or design for transonic/supersonic flight.. A very interesting design challenge for sure!

Steve
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Old 05-19-2010, 08:35 PM   #19
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Building extremely light isn't a possibility if you want to survive to ground level. That means transonic/supersonic flight is almost a necessity at high altitude.

I suppose you could elect not to fly at all in those low density altitudes and just choose the glide angle of a buffalo turd until you reach the air density that allows sane flight.
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Old 05-19-2010, 10:46 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Rockin Robbins View Post
Building extremely light isn't a possibility if you want to survive to ground level.
Why?
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Old 05-19-2010, 11:03 PM   #21
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I'd guess an extremely strong but lightweight style of plane like a hotliner (but unpowered and obviously composite) would be ideal. Use an autopilot and any sort of tracking system inside so you can locate it once it comes down.

If you program the autopilot to return to the base station, once it has enough air for control it's going to keep its nose toward you and at minimum won't end up in a different country With luck you might end up within a short distance (though short is a relative term when we're talking about these altitudes)! A hotliner, even unpowered with a 1-1 glide ratio could cover a lot of ground.

You might try the RCGroups UAV section for more ideas. Sounds like an awesome project!
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Old 05-19-2010, 11:42 PM   #22
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Actually perhaps this isnt quite so hard as it first appears. Lets use some ballpark numbers:
At some altitude above 100,000ft the air density would be something like 1/100 of that at sea level.

Stall speed is proportional to the square root of air density so if the density was 100 times lower the stall speed would be 10 times higher. This is a big problem for real subsonic planes because their stall speeds might be around 100mph at sea level, so stall speed at that altitude would be well above supersonic.

For a lightweight model it's not such a problem. A reasonably light glider may stall at 10mph at sea level, so up above 100,000ft it would stall at 100mph... Still not even close to a speed where you would have any issues at all with critical mach number.

It looks on the face of it like a normal freeflight glider would be up to the task. Descent could be controlled by a standard dethermaliser (pop up tail) arrangement triggered by altitude.

Steve
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Old 05-20-2010, 12:38 AM   #23
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absolutely sounds outrageously cool!!!!!!

be sure to put your AMA # on it so when it lands thousands of miles away we can return it to ya.....and you can fix the windshield...lol.

narrow is the place to land...wide is the space to crash....choose the narrow way!
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Old 05-20-2010, 01:11 AM   #24
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Amazing project, to bad he went elsewhere

Thanks For The Airspace,
Lipo Pilot
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Old 05-20-2010, 02:25 AM   #25
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Wow, I didn't even see the previous dates... I feel dumb now.
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