RC Airplanes Close to 400 mph using dynamic soaring

Here is a video with some airplanes that use Dynamic Soaring to fly close to 400 mph
Location:Weldon, California.
RC Gliders
reach close to 400 mph without any propellers or motors.


Dynamic soaring is a flying technique used to gain energy by repeatedly crossing the boundary between air masses of significantly different velocity. Such zones of high wind gradient are generally found close to obstacles and close to the surface, so the technique is mainly of use to birds and operators of radio-controlled gliders, but glider pilots have occasionally been able to soar dynamically in meteorological wind shears at higher altitudes.


I initially thought they build up a "centrifugal force" and turn tightly to make the plane go faster.But it has nothing to to with any centrifugal force.

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  • Wouldn't a GPS lose lock due to G-forces? I've heard that typical consumer GPS units will drop out above 7G continuous acceleration...? We're dealing with 30-70G continuous acceleration. Does anyone have experience with a 10ghz GPS that doesn't lose lock under these conditions?
  • Here's a good video of NASA demonstrating dynamic soaring in a practical application.

  • Another problem is how you model the wind.By using simple differential equations it seems you underestimate a lot.Wind is more than a directional ,linear force.
  • Who's up to modeling one huge neural network to mimic the brain, and raise it for 20 sum years? :)
    GPS isn't really a problem, that can be predicted, and models can be used to estimate the new position based on the AHRS.
  • That is sick. Forget the response of the GPS, i'm more worried about the response of the servos at that point. at that speed your servos are only updating position every 4 meters.
  • Developer
    At such speeds prediction becomes a huge factor. That is the beauty of the human brain, it's great at finding patterns and making predictions. So while you would think it is impossible for a human to control a small R/C airplane at such speeds, we can by utilizing experience and applying control inputs ahead of time. But if something unforeseen happens like a control surface malfunctioning the plane will most likely crash HARD, since there is no time to adapt to the new behavior of the plane.
  • Ryan, at this high speed, we will need a high refresh rate for the GPS and with a high amount of locked signals for safety reason alone and accuracy. I don't even want to figure out how to program for it. An awesome find that's for sure.
  • Yep, Joe from California can build some pretty awesome DS. We should figure out how to do this in autonomous!
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