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Saturday, June 23, 2007

Wicked Witch 2 - test flight 1 - wow!

Just Kidding! This is a dramatization of a possible launch into a tornado. Eric created this overlay and it shows what would be the ultimate intercept for this project! Read below and follow our progress as we develop an RC aircraft with the goal of flying near and in a tornado!!

This page is dedicated to the Wicked Witch RC Video Aircraft Project. The aircraft is a model airplane used to fly in and around Tornadoes/Thunderstorms and other interesting objects. It has the following specs:

Aircraft: Predator-B V-Tail, Handlaunch, Short Field Recovery, Backpack Portable
Wingspan: 73" two piece
Wing area: 369.6 sq in
Weight w/o camera: 24.7 oz
Control System: 3 Channel Futaba Radio, throttle and flapperon control
Motor: 400 brushless electric.
Power: 1100mW Lithium Polymer battery.
Prop: 6" pusher-style to keep forward view clear.
Camera: Hardened/Rubberized 640x480 pixels, 30fps, 1 hour record time, AVI format, USB Interface.
Recovery System: Onboard parachute and 600 foot range RFID locator to locate the camera if downed. Audible beep locator when transmitter is off.
Complete cost: ~$600.00

Eric nicely captures the Wicked Witch 2's flight near a severe thunderstorm updraft at Cope, CO!

Highway 36 east of Cope, CO as seen from the Wicked Witch 2 camera at about 400 feet up!

Eric and I and the Subaru flying the WW2!

The severe warned thunderstorm Rain Free Base as filmed from the WW2 at an altitude of approximately 300 feet. The WW2 was flying in the inflow winds of about 10-20kts and had a definate tendancy to want to go downwind quickly. I spent most of the flight fighting the flow as I didn't want to chase the plane out in the field. Had there been a tornado under this updraft it would have been the plane's natural tendancy to drift with the current and go straight into the updraft.
I have a locator coming from that I will use to locate the video after it comes down hopefully within 600 feet of a road. That is the range of this device and it is definately needed as the plane is easily lost in tall grass and crops!

Here's the NCAR building as seen from a screen grab from the WW2 video.

View of the flatirons looking north from the NCAR mesa.

Just landed after flying around NCAR and the Boulder flatirons. Wait till you see this video - wow!

We took the Wicked Witch 2 out to southern Colorado to fly the plane in storm conditions and hopefully get some cool video. However, strong outflow winds detached the rear prop and caused the plane to spin out of control before nosediving into the ground. The plane suffered minimal damage. In the event of the actual flight into a tornado, the plane is expected to be carried by the inflow winds rather than fighting against outflow. Video:

Watch Eric's video of the WW2 loosing it's prop and subsequent crash.

The Wicked Witch 2 makes it's first flight ever at Coal Creek Canyon!

Wow is the word to describe the first flight of the Wicked Witch 2! I drove her down to the field at the bottom of coal creek canyon and assembled the wing halves and powered on the camera. I was very worried about if with the extra actioncam weight would this thing even fly!? But boy did it ever! At full power it lept out of my hands and into the sky. I just had a long at least 10 minute test flight and it performed flawlessly. This will become the vehicle of choice for my flight into a tornado!

Edit: I just posted the video above. It's awesome! I love the clarity of no propeller in the field of view and the resolution is great for such a small lightweight camera.

Watch the Wicked Witch 2 overfly the historic Union Pacific Steam Locomotive 844.

UP 844 speeds under the WW2 along HW85 on it's way the Cheyenne Frontier Days

Steam Locomotive 844 quickly heads up the tracks at 65mph!


Tony Laubach said...

That's pretty sweet quality! That's going to look awesome in a storm! Nice landing... THUD! LOL

Dee Dee said...

dear uncle verne, when are you going to baby sit us and buy us stuff? anna
and sarah.
btw cool movie

Jonathan Merage said...

Nice! Man, that looks fun to fly... That plane's got some real power. Will be interesting to see how it performs in strong winds. I see why the Air Force chose this as their recon plane. Will you be adding any more equipment to fly into the tornado, or would that add too much weight?
C ya out there!

Ryan Shepard said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I admire your wicked witch. I am a pilot and a storm chaser so ive always wanted to combine the two in someway. I have met mike, now i need to meet the other Carlson's, and tony sometime. Hope to chase again with a carlson.
Ryan Shepard UNC

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