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A TEMPO RESTRICTED AREA ACT AT CABLE DOWNS STATION,COBAR 10NM RAD OF S31 15.18 E145 32.57 (20NM NW COBAR AD) DUE HIGH ALTITUDE KITE FLYING ACTIVITY. TRA WILL BE DEACTIVATED WHEN ACTIVITY COMPLETE AND/OR CANCELLED. NO FLIGHT PERMITTED WITHIN THE AREA WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE CONTROLLING AUTHORITY CTC AIRSERVICES AUSTRALIA TELEPHONE 0392357420 OR ML CEN FREQ 124.9
Below are some pages from the CASA application instrument (approval to operate high altitude kites). It can be seen that the conditions are detailed and seem somewhat restrictive however Rob Glen of Sports Aviation in CASA, and I developed the conditions. These are consistant with safe practices that will maximise the chances of breaking the world record, retrieving the kite intact and minimising hazards to aircraft. My kites will not only fly very high but aircraft will not interfere with our activities, that is most important to me.
Above: The actual NOTAM as issued to pilots by Air Services Australia. This is a computer generated message that appears on route maps displayed on instrument navigation screens for commercial aircraft and some more sophisticated light aircraft. Operators of light aircraft who are in uncontrolled airspace are supposed to contact their relevant traffic control centre before taking off to establish if their any NOTAM restriction in their flight path. This may not happen sometimes in remote areas such as when local farmers make flights within the Louth/Bourke/Cobar region.
CASA - Civil Aviation Safety Authority - Air safety - regulations
Air Services Australia - Airspace management
In 2002 I was flying kites from my local fields. I didn't consider that I may be breaking CASA regulations when I flew some kites to increasingly high altitudes. Very few kite flyers have knowledge of or care about the limit of 400 ft above ground level. The only reason I was aware of CASA's existence was the occasional reference in the media when an air crash occurred and Dick Smith making scathing attacks on CASA nearly 15 years ago. After I made contact with airport managers, aviation experts and looked at web sites, I had a clearer idea what CASA's role was in regulating recreational flying.
In most cases, flying a kite in suburbia to 500 or 600 ft above ground level, doesn't present a hazard except if flying close to airports. Flying a kite above 600 ft may pose a significant risk for helicopters which fly lower than fixed wing aircraft. In steady flight, light aircraft usually fly at least 1,500 ft above ground level. Other aircraft such as commercial jets fly at various fixed levels such as 3,500 ft, 7,000 ft. and multiples of 3,500 ft as dictated by routes, destination and traffic densities. Air traffic management is the responsibility of Air Services Australia and I have to contact their operational centre several times a day when we are making record attempts. Just as a large bird strike can cause damage to a jet engine, a kite could be sucked into a jet intake although there are no incidences of this nature that I am aware of. I have seen read a report of a light aircraft having its prop shaft tangled with kite line, stalling the engine. The plane landed without damage but it could have resulted in a crash, serious injury or death. Any perceived risk is unacceptable especially when these risks can be virtually eliminated by sensible kite flying that does not interfere with aircraft. Just as important to me is the risk of aircraft cutting line or damaging a kite which would destroy a record attempt. The conditions for the kite altitude record attempts established by CASA appear to be very restrictive, however they don't present any practical barrier to our high flying activities. In fact I would impose most of these conditions on our operations without CASA because they are consistent with successful record attempts. The only conditions that restrict our flights on occasion is flying into cloud and having a large streamer attached to the kite is probably unnecessary. At Cable Downs blue skies predominate and if there is cloud it is often above our record target. Occasionally cloud may pass under the kite but this is unavoidable unless we don't fly at all.
Generally the great majority of recreational kite flyers keep kites below 300 ft. A kite at 400 ft is usually regarded as very high and many ordinary children's kites are nearly out of site at that altitude. In the USA kites under 5lb (2.3 kg) are not subject to restrictions as they are deemed of insufficient mass to present a problem to aircraft of any type and are probably too small to fly high enough to intrude into even the lowest flight levels. This is one of the few things that differentiate civil aviation regulations between the USA and Australia. The US regulations have clearly formed the basis for the Australian regulations as in many cases text has been copied word for word.
As my kites got bigger, it occurred to me that aircraft could be damaged or even crash if they struck one of my big kites. Even if this is a very unlikely event, it worried me. I searched for kite flying regulations and found them on the CASA site although it wasn't clear how some of these rules applied to big kites flown high. However, It became clear that my plans to fly high altitude kites needed clearance from CASA and I needed to organise the record attempts in a structured, scientific and professional manner even though it is an amateur venture. I had no idea who to contact or how to approach CASA to get these permissions. In 2003/2004 it took more than 12 months of dialogue and negotiation to achieve the first approval to fly kites to high altitude. Initially I contacted several potential sites including Richmond Airforce base, Jervis Bay Naval Base and a previous site for the world hang gliding championship at Forbes. I tried Woomera test zone in South Australia but it became too complex to gain permission with bureaucratic red-tape and it may have cost a small fortune to secure a zone. Following consultation with several aviation experts, they advised me to contact Rob Glen in Sports Aviation at CASA. Then the process went ahead in leaps and bounds. I believe I have developed a good rapport with CASA and Air Services staff and have also earned their respect as a responsible person doing a thorough and professional grade job with an amateur activity.
After a great deal of to-and-fro communication I finally had an answer that a broad zone west of a north-south line between Griffith and Cobar wold be suitable. I still had to search for a farmer who would host the record attempts. I also had to find a property within 100 km of the Cobar weather station for the wind data to be relevant. The only station conducting daily balloon sonde flights was Cobar and the nearby other weather stations are Wagga and Moree.
Sometimes the most obscure events can change the course of our lives. In this case it was the Sunrise program, a popular Sydney television breakfast show which had done a small story on the difficulties of rural communities maintaining services for children. In this case Karen Viant was interviewed at Cable Downs about the impending closure of the mobile rural library service. I looked the story up on the Internet then got the name of the property. I found the property name on a topographical map. I looked at satellite images. I looked up references to Viant and found that Steve Viant was a Cobar Counsellor. I wrote a letter to Steve and Karen requesting they allow me to attempt the world altitude record. They replied that they were happy to host the record attempts although I am sure they were intrigued by my request.
So I had the permission, the location, a weather station and all I needed was a winch, line, a kite, GPS and a trailer. There was a lot more to it that that but it was a start. For the first few attempts, CASA services were free but now, for each series of attempts, I have payed between $500 and $600 for application processing as it increases with time.
Rob Glen at CASA and I have refined the "instrument" to include a host of conditions. The NOTAM below is one of the conditions, that is, Air Services have to declare a restricted zone and I must communicate with Air Services staff each day.
This is what I must do each time I make a series of attempts on the world altitude record and what I must do on each day..
1. Submit a formal application to CASA via the Sports Aviation department in Canberra ACT.
2. Pay approximately $600 when I submit the application so I need to be absolutely certain that the application will be approved. It has never bee declined.
3. On the first day of any series of attempts I must contact Air Services Australia's Brisbane office and activate the zone.
4. I must contact Air Services when I launch or end a flight.
5. I must contact Air Services to close a zone for the day.
6. I must repeat steps 3, 4 & 5 each day.
7. I must contact Air Services at the end of the last day to close the zone permanently for that series.
8. I must contact air services if certain events occur.
9. I make a report to the approving CASA officer in Sports Aviation which is more of a courtesy but also gives an opportunity to request variation in the
conditions applied to the high altitude flights.
Once I could get past the beaurocratic process and officialdom, CASA staff were very interested in the kite record attempts and were very pleased
when we broke the record.
FACT: International air travel was dominated by the USA and a legacy of that is all measurements of altitude, speed and distance are in feet, knots and nautical miles. Altitude: 10,000 ft = 3,049 metres Speed: 10 knots = 11.5 mph = 18.52 kph Distance: 1ft = 0.3049 metres
In Australia there is often a confusing array of measurements quoted due to the persistence of generational differences and the influence of US media. I try to quote both imperial and metric to satisfy both users although over 80% of the World is metric and in time Imperial mesurements may fade into oblivion. there is no mathematical opr scientific logic to persist with imperial measuremnets.
This cheap little Samsung/Telstra SGH-A411 flip phone was bought on the spur of the moment from Cobar post office in 2007 after my other mobile failed to receive adequate signals from the Cobar tower. I needed a phone with an external aerial connection and this 3g phone had that at a low price. I was able to mount the aerial on a 4 metre mast with a long extension cable which gave 3 bars of signal. The phone sat in a cradle on the winch frame next to the controller. Without this phone I could not make or receive the required calls to and from Air Services and a bonus was I was able to be interviewed on ABC radio plus we could call our families.
In 2004 and 2005, we used a satellite phone and another mobile but neither of these were satisfactory. I still have this phone and it is ready to go as current SIM cards are backwards compatible. It is a little surprising for us city folk that phone communication is not a given even in semi remote areas. It is a popular phone with country folk for a good reason - the external aerial socket, price and simplicity.
In Australia, how high can you fly a kite normally?
• 120 metres or 400 ft.
Where are you not allowed to fly a kite?
• Closer than 5 km to an airport boundary.
• In designated military zones which are classified as restricted areas.
• Where the kite may be a hazard to aircraft landing such as helicopters or light aircraft.
• In local areas where council bylaws have banned or restricted kite flying. This applies to many Sydney beaches. Check wih your local council for bylaw restrictions.
• Near power lines.
• Where there may be a hazard to others such as over a busy highway, on a crowded sporting field.
If you want to fly a kite above 400 ft in unrestricted air space, what must you do?
• Contact CASA and apply for a permit.
How much does it cost to apply?
Kite Altitude World Record