Published: Aug. 3, 2015

After arriving at the Oliktok Point Long Range Radar Station (LRRS) around midday yesterday, we spent the afternoon at the atmospheric observation facility (called the AMF) preparing the small fleet of DataHawk aircraft for flight, and the evening getting oriented at the LRRS.

Nate working on a DataHawk

In the morning, after a quick breakfast, we piled into the pick-up and returned to the AMF to finish preparing the aircraft. Although the physical assembly was complete, a software issue in the autopilot causing loss of RC link forced us to break for lunch without completing radio range checks. Work on the autopilot took place after lunch. Running several simulations of proposed flight paths tested the paths, stored them for future use, and provided training for the crew. Despite the continuing rain and fog, the forecast showed potential for flight appropriate conditions after dinner. Upon reaching the AMF in the evening, half of the crew took the plane in the truck and drove east toward the oil rig on the point while the other half monitored the radio link status. At 1.4km, the radio control link remained strong, but the telemetry link had dropped to -85dB. Given that the aircraft was on the ground and in the truck, we anticipate range to be significantly greater than 1.4km. Unfortunately, the weather had not improved as forecast, and flying was pushed off to tomorrow.

 AMF and hangar

After range checking, we took time to calibrate the IR sensors on the top and bottom of the aircraft. Using a FLIR infrared camera to provide a temperature reading, the aircraft was positioned over several different surfaces to obtain temperature data. This data was used to generate a curve that will be used to interpolate temperature. In flight, the IR sensors will be used to determine the temperature difference between land and sea. 

In all, things are going well here, despite the delays in getting aircraft in the air. Given the forecast, flying tomorrow is very likely. We are looking forward to at least testing the systems before moving on to full profiles.

Nate, Dale and Gijs in front of the AMF