Windjet ready for record attempt

Gale force winds raise hopes of new record by British wind powered craft

Tuesday January 29th 2002, Author: Gerald New, Location: United Kingdom
Windjet Land Speed Record Craft

Windjet, the British group, based in Lymington, England, reached 116mph (185.6 km/h) yesterday during a test run at RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire. The weather conditions were not ideal for a record attempt with a predicted 20 - 30 knot wind at about 25 degrees to the runway, however pilot Richard Jenkins and the team seized the opportunity to put in some more valuable high speed test runs.

Leaving the hanger at 1600 hrs, Windjet waited patiently on the runway threshold for two F-15 fighter jets to perform a 'touch-and-go' manoeuvre. No sooner had they roared overhead, the 'Windjet all clear' message came from Waddington Air Traffic Control over the cockpit radio.

Releasing the brake, Richard shot out on to the runway, accelerating with the windward wheel clear of the ground for the first few hundred metres. That first run recorded 116 mph according to the on-board speedometer, However, the team know that this 'mechanical' device reads a speed at least 3-4 percent below the real vehicle speed. (demonstrated last time the team used the high performance GPS tracking system).

Yet, Richard is saying nothing of the potential top speed achieved;

"Today we had some great speeds, clocking over 108 mph on every run, with a top recorded speed of 116. The vehicle was handling superbly and it looks as if we now have really got to grips with the turbulent Waddington conditions. Even better, is that the acceleration has now moved up a gear with top speed being reached by roughly the middle of the runway, in less than one mile. It's quite incredible."

The improvement in acceleration has been achieved by changes to the wing configuration since the official 102.7 mph (165.3 km/h) recorded in early December in their quest to break the World Record of 116 mph. Ideally they require a 90 degree coss- wind for maximum performance but the craft is performing so well at lesser angles, that they are confident of breaking the record even without the perfect conditions.

The land vehicle is now back in the hanger waiting for the next weather opportunity, when the official timers will be back to witness the record and verify it. After a lull today the strong winds required, 20 to 30 knots, are expected to return and continue for the next eight days.

The Windjet group have started to build a new craft to attempt the outright wind water speed record later this year. No details of the British craft are available at the moment, all the team will divulge is that the boat is designed to be able to achieve high speed in more open water conditions than the protected areas required by recent record breakers.

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