This project aims to autonomously return a glider from a high altitude balloon (100,000 feet). I just wrapped up “proof of concept” autonomous glides dropped from a hexacopter. We’re ready for 18,000 foot class E flight testing, pending how our talks with the faa begins and ends.

Heres the video! Let me know what you guys think.

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  • Very good explanation. Thanks for your article official website

  • I've pondered this project as well.  Looks like you are making good progress!  Keep it up!

  • Thanks David! Hopefully we can see the end of it.

    To Pepper, that doesn't surprise me at all. Right now i'm reacing out to spaceports and other airports of such to see if we can do a launch there. We're first going to go for Class E airspace (Hopefully for this one we can grab a waiver for) to finalize everything in terms of software and return to home controls. We have a CubePilot Orange that has ADS-B on it, which qualifies as "sense-and-avoid" technology that hopefully the FAA will see as a mark towards safety. 

    I'll definitely look into the UASIPP apps from oregon as well. I really appreciate these resources. 

    I'm also reaching out to a couple spaceports with private airspaces right now. Hopefully I can hear back from them and can expedite this process. I love the "just go out into international waters" idea too it's surprisingly viable, hopefully one day i'll have a private island and none of us will have to deal with this mess.

  • Tarik,

    We explored this project in Montana, but the FAA told us no in very certain terms, but that was pre- UASIPP, and we were going to fly the drones after release. Autonomous runs into a million other issues with the FAA.

    Our University partners have high alititude waivers, and do a lot of high altitude weather balloon work, but waivers for high altitude for autonomous drones dont exist to my knowledge. That's a whole other level of BVLOS.

    How many BVLOS waivers are there out there now? There were two then, both required multiple layers of communication and pilots with waaay more than just drone licenses, million dollar rigs, etc...

    I'm not saying your project is impossible in US Airspace.

    This project could likely be done near Tillamook, Oregon. There is a company with a derigible field there with exemptions up to 80,000ft.

    Not likely looking to partner though. We reached out to them and they weren't interested in sharing their exemptions.

    As of what I've heard recently or what we've been told: FAA requires chase vehicles for high altitude drone flights(like manned aircraft), and generally autonomous drones are a no go. The FAA wants PIC's for each vehicle in flight. You can drop a parachute from a weather balloon, but not a flying vehicle(not without waivers), etc....

    Look through the UASIPP applications from Oregon. Im thinking the derigible/microsattelite company with those high altitude waivers are in or near Tillamook, OR.

    Honestly, the best way to do this project is to forget about the FAA and go out to sea into international waters and launch this from a boat. Waaay cheaper and less time consuming than fooling with the FAA.

    Fair weather to you.


  • Great video sir. I love the transparency and enthusiasm...keep up the good work!

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