the "KITES ON AIR" group

Usually there is sufficient wind in San Diego to
successfully fly our kite-antennas between the
hours of 11 AM and 2 PM on at least 75% of the
days. Our various kites can easily provide 2 to 4
pounds of available lift which is more than
sufficient to raise our kite antennas to a suitable
height.  With our kite-antenna systems we have
made over 300 radio contacts including all 50
states and at least a couple dozen countries.
However, to work most DX stations from here in
San Diego, we need to be able to fly our antennas
in the morning and early evenings – as well as on
days that the wind is not a suitable for lifting our
kites. Therefore, we are initiating this “lighter than
air” project.

Lighter than air balloons have the reputation that
they will be driven to the ground when the winds
start to blow. However, we have carefully
reviewed the lift to drag relationship of a 5.5 foot
diameter balloon and have conclude that this
balloon has the potential of maintaining a 45
degree tether fly angle in winds of up to 6 or 8
miles per hour. This wind speed covers the typical
winds that we have in San Diego while allowing
the balloon to maintain a suitable height as well
as providing all of the lift necessary to support
our antenna systems. The 45 degree tether angle
is not a problem as that is the same angle that
most of our kites fly when  they are lifting an

Helium filled balloons fabricated of Chloroprene
can be expected to stay inflated for several days
between any necessary “top offs”. This feature
makes them economical to operate on a long
term basis. Further, the addition of Ultra Hi-Float
to the inside of the balloon may reduce the helium
consumption by another order of magnitude with
the addition of 4 ounces or less to the balloon’s

This family of lighter than air balloons adds kite-like
or other stabilizing elements so that they can be
successfully flown in winds of higher velocity than
simple helium filled balloons. This additional kite
element adds weight to the balloon-kite hybrid that
can reduce it’s lifting capability under no wind
conditions by as much as 40% compared to the lift
generated by a similar size balloon.  Also, the initial
cost of a balloon-kite hybrid can be 20 to 40 time that
of the highest quality balloon.

The test facility will be built into a 2 ton size truck which has a box inside dimensions of 79 inches wide by 68
inches high by ten feet long. The balloon that is being tested or used for lifting our kite-antennas will be
stored, transported, launched and recovered using this truck. We plan to store the balloon in an inflated
condition in order to minimize helium consumption. The truck will also include a 100 watt transceiver along
with it’s battery and coaxial line transmission line cable plus a supply of helium and a regulator for filling or
topping off the balloon whenever required.

The current plan calls for either a balloon “nest” to be provided on the floor of truck into which the balloon
can be placed or a "bag" that will surround the balloon and protect it from touching the van walls. A
telescoping boom will be used to guide the balloon's entry and exit from the truck as well as to insure safe
launch and recovery of the balloon. A “mobile” tether cart will be included that can be used to position the
anchor point of the fly line wherever it is wanted outside of the truck.


For our initial testing we will use a 5.5 foot diameter Chloroprene balloon and a two cubic meter Allospp
Helikite. Our first tests will be determine the 5.5 foot balloon's tether angle under various load and wind
conditions. We expect to start our testing some time in December, 2017.

We are looking forward adding lighter than air balloon capability which will allow us to fly our kite-antennas
on any day and at any time of day. We plan to determine the actual performance for different lighter than air
antenna lifters under the wind conditions that we experience at our favorite flying fields in San Diego.