The Max Planck Cloudkite first flight

Eberhard Bodenschatz

January 19, we made a test flight of Tiny 1 (T1, the 250 m3 Helikite) and the spherical 180 m3 floatation balloon “Augsburg”. Things went “okay”. The 7m tethered spherical balloon did not fly as expected. As we needed to fill it only to 70% of full (due to expansion at 2km) the sphere created a dynamic indentation like the “death star” in StarWars. This then gave the balloon the shape of a wing. It danced a lot and the dynamics was unpredictable. Thus it pulled T1 a bit around. T1 also had a problem. Due to a hookup band being pulled apart the balloon was pulled together along the keel and the spar split the back holder and stuck out 4m. Even in this state T1 flew controlled and no other problems. We then tried a few maneuvers. The ship drove in a circle to see whether the rope clears it – this was successful as expected.  In addition we moved the a-beam down so to make space for the mounting of the MiniMPCK instrument. That worked like charm. 

Photo: Markus Ritschel

Then came the tricky part of landing both balloons. This was accomplished by the crew well. We then deflated Augsburg and put it into storage. Today we let out some gas of T1, tilted it on the side (the cross section is elliptical) and we were able to push it through the a-beam opening. Then we pulled in the T1 about 7m to deck in order to be able to mount the spar and repair back of the keel. This is now successfully accomplished and the balloon is ready to be moved back through the a-beam. Once that is done we plan to install the large box to measure cloud microphysics including the PIV and the Holography systems. Today we had low clouds – almost a cover – and some were raining heavily. Ideal conditions. We shall see tomorrow how things go. So we a preparing now the big box and also the remote charging cables. With a bit of luck we fly tomorrow.

Eberhard Bodenschatz

Photo: Markus Ritschel

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