View Single Post
Old Oct 25, 2012, 03:29 PM
qbert55ca is offline
Find More Posts by qbert55ca
Registered User
Great White North
Joined Dec 2005
835 Posts
They go up tidi up up, they go down tidi down down

The above line is from a movie and while the movie was a farce the fact is that what goes up must come down.

The point I'm trying to make is not to discourage, but to applaud the steps you are taking to do your project successfully. While you see a few videos with lamps, toy trains, and other things attached to balloons, most of the time you don't see the countless ones that have failed, (lamp one excluded).

Just one of the problems is the jet stream and high altitude winds. We all saw what happened to the lamp and then the package as they got blown around by the wind and then torn off. only the light weight of the payload and it's non- aerodynamic shape saved that one. This is about the most dangerous part of a ballon flight in both directions, passing through the high wind areas.

Having a aerodynamic plane helps to some degree but only to a degree.

Lets think about a hypothetical situation. As the balloon enters the jet stream the plane actually starts to fly, how are you going to prevent it flying into the balloon. Having LRRC and FPV equipment on board will be a grest assets but will your plane survive being buffeted by 100 to 300 mph winds at -70C. Believe it or not, the answer is in most cases yes. If you have done you homework and designed the system correctly. The big question is on the way down can you regain stability and unless you plane is natualy stable the answer depends on the amount of effort you have put into the project to make it that way.

My group was started in 2003 and started launching balloons in 2007. We have worked on this project weekly for 5 years and never been above 35,000 feet with a plane and 80,000 with a dumb payload. Gaben experienced the same problem that we came up against in his last flight and that was regaining control once the plane is away. While he stayed with the FPV method (much cheaper) we went with an autopilot with IMU. This has taken a long time to develop and even a longer time to prove. The right plane design with the right control system
is the key.

We also experienced the above mentioned problem, the plane flying in high winds, and we were not into the jet stream yet. For planes hanging and dropping from balloons, this is a very important area of concern.

Another note of concern, while it is not illegal as far as I know, launching any rocket over a certain power and above certain altitudes requires a licence and /or a waiver in the USA. Be very careful about what and why you are doing something.

I have by fortune and good luck not been bothered by regulations and government interference in our project because we researched as to what could and could not be done, and then advised and worked with the appropriate authorities. In the past we have launched as many as 3 balloon's a month with little to no interference because we follow the rules and do not push the limits. Take you plane to the stratosphere but be very careful about launching anything from it, it then becomes a completely different project.

With a HAM on the team you will now be able to use high power video to see what's going on but you run into FAA regulations about FPV. That's one for you to figure out as I, being Canadian don't have to worry about the FAA. And yes, I do follow the Canadian regulations which are simular but with one important difference. I do mine under the watchful eye and in comunication with the local ATC. Therefore, not only I know where the balloon and plane are at all times I know what other air traffic is in the vicinity and the ATC knows where my plane/payloads and balloons are. This is the only way that I could get past the following regulations.

Canadian Air Regulations

Large Unoccupied Free Balloons

602.42 No person shall release an unoccupied free balloon having a gas-carrying capacity of more than 115 cubic feet (3.256 m3) except in accordance with an authorization issued by the Minister pursuant to section 602.44.


602.43 No person shall launch a rocket, other than a model rocket or a rocket of a type used in a fireworks display, except in accordance with an authorization issued by the Minister pursuant to section 602.44.

Authorization by the Minister

602.44 The Minister may issue an authorization referred to in section 602.42 or 602.43 where the release of the balloon or the launch of the rocket is in the public interest and is not likely to affect aviation safety.

Model Aircraft, Kites and Model Rockets

602.45 No person shall fly a model aircraft or a kite or launch a model rocket or a rocket of a type used in a fireworks display into cloud or in a manner that is or is likely to be hazardous to aviation safety.

It's the last line in 602.45 is the catch all. It's no problem to launch the balloon. but how do you fly a model airplane that you can't see and prove that it's not a hazard to avation safety. Get real cozzy with the local ATC. It don't matter if you are 45 miles away ATC still needs to know what's going on at a minimum and perferably should be actively involved.

Keep up the positive attitude and progress, and I'm around if ya need help/advice.

qbert55ca is offline Find More Posts by qbert55ca
Last edited by qbert55ca; Oct 25, 2012 at 03:35 PM.
Reply With Quote