UT in Action!

Michael Willett, K5NOT has been coaching the Women In Aerospace Leadership Development (WIALD) group at UT-Austin, who wants to start launching ARHABs as part of the freshmen and higher curriculum. As the name implies, WIALD consists of a group of women students that are pursuing an engineering track in Aerospace. The ladies make up around 12% to 18% of the engineers in this track. This effort is to help keep women students interested in the demanding aerospace track and realize enthusiasm and motivation through creating their own payloads and experiments and sending them to the edge of space!

We have a date set for a launch from Hillsboro Airport on April 6th, fallback April 7th. The students are traveling up from Austin to stay in Grand Prairie at the WIALD president parent’s home, and then will make the trip back to Austin post flight for classes. Several of these women have passed their Tech exam; more are working on theirs. They are acquiring ham radio gear, including an APRS tracking system for the balloon and for the chase vehicle. They are very motivated for this flight, but as we all know, first exposure to APRS and ballooning details can be a challenge!

The payloads consist of an impressive array of CPU boards interfaced to pressure sensors and accelerometers, and of course will include cameras (Cannon modified with a script) and a high-def video camera or two. They have a good grasp on the basics, FAA rules and challenges of those high-altitudes. ARBONET will be supplying some of the launch gear to include our K5ARB-10 APRS beacon, as well as a SPOT messenger for ground locate backup.

The balloon will likely be a 1200 to 1500 gr balloon and they are working on getting helium through UT-Austin. ARBONET will back them up on these items as needed.

If you are interested in assisting with any or all aspects of this flight, your participation is encouraged! I would like them to see the support from our DFW area Ham community and realize a very successful
first flight!

Here is a link to their web page, as well as, a power point somewhat based on Mike’s talk there earlier this year:


Again, the plan is Hillsboro, April 6th, 8:30-9:00AM launch, recovery and lunch.

(Contributed by Jerry Keisler, WA5KZA)

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