Polar Flight Telemetry

Posted by Sam Churchill on

On December 5th, Jennifer Murray and Colin Bodill will climb into their Bell 407 helicopter and attempt to set a world record for circumnavigating the globe by way of the North and South Poles.

Their Polar First expedition originally attempted this goal in 2003, but the expedition was abruptly and dramatically cut short when the aircraft crashed on an ice sheet in Antarctica. Using an Iridium-based Blue Sky system with a wireless SkyRouter, they were able to direct emergency crews to their exact location. The crew believes this solution saved their lives.

Maintaining constant communication with on-ground support during the 36,000-mile, 175-day trip is imperative.

“Considering the inherent danger of a flight like this, and our own personal experience, it is a relief to know we can rely on the Blue Sky Network flight tracker to keep us in contact with our crew on the ground at all times, no matter where we are,” said Jennifer Murray.

The Blue Sky Network equipment on board the helicopter includes an Iridium-based D1000 mobile tracking and telemetry terminal with embedded GPS. Separate voice equipment allows the pilots to keep in touch with technical support and ground personnel. The Wireless Airborne Router ($1695), provides in-cabin Wi-Fi and can also serve as a DHCP server and supports VPN.

Blue Sky Network’s communications solution is based on the Iridium Satellite network since only Iridium provides pole-to-pole, global voice and data communications coverage. Telemetry data from the aircraft is sent to mission control. Ground staff will have instant access to the exact position of the helicopter.

You can follow their progress via Polar First’s website which features GPS tracking and Google Earth integration along with updates and details of the record attempt including speed, altitude and elapsed flight time.

3dtracking (above) is offering a FREE online GPS tracking service. You can either track online or download the recorded .kmz to view on Google Earth. It can run on a $350 Dell Axim V51 with an $80 GPS accessory. Track stuff all day in WiFi cities like Portland.

Posted by Sam Churchill on Wednesday, November 29th, 2006 at 12:01 pm .