11/11/2010

The latest British high-tech aeronautical achievement

Is Geneva airport ready to authorise the landing of paper aeroplanes piloted by a Playmobil figure? At Madrid, they were ready, tracking the descent as well as possible despite the difficulties!


PARIS plane.jpgWell, it just had to be another crazy idea of a few British aviation enthusiasts! Three of them (Steve Daniels, Lester Haines and John Oates) decided to construct an aeroplane made out of paper straws covered with paper and release it at high altitude from a weather balloon. Initially, it was just a joke suggestion, but then it got taken seriously.

To confuse everyone, as well as preparing to shift the blame across the English Channel in case things went wrong, the project was named PARIS (Paper Aeroplane released into Space). Another defensive measure, aimed at dissuading real birds from attacking it, was to name it Vulture 1.

It was duly put into an envelope containing helium, which was attached to a helium balloon released 50 miles west of Madrid (with special clearance from the Spanish authorities). When the balloon got up to 90,000 feet the expanding helium burst the envelope, letting Vulture 1 descend to earth. With some difficulty, due to a weak GPS navigation system signal, Vulture 1 was tracked and eventually located on the ground about 100 miles from its release point.

And the Playmobil pilot? Well, anyone who has ever built a model aircraft knows that you need some ballast in the front to keep the nose down!

This achievement could give rise to enormous possibilities. For instance, the plane could have messages on the wings or inside, including advertisements! Maybe the Playmobil group could even offer, together with the pilot, a kit to make a copy of the aircraft and a mini weather balloon (or hot air balloon) and sell it as a Christmas present (one of those which fathers buy for themselves, pretending that it is for their sons!).

For more details, photos etc., you can consult the technology site called "The Register". Techies might prefer more details HERE.

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