How High? How Far? How Fast?

Something I think we all wonder is how high our plane goes, how fast they go, and its rather difficult to know exactly how far away it gets when its up in the air.

I purchased a GPS tracker (well 2 and lost the first one) to get a better idea of these three questions. Today I put the GPS tracker in a glider and a camera on it. Of course gliders tend to be flown at altitude so I didn’t think a ground video would be much use.

So lets start with the flight. This was made from a glider, I’m not great with a glider anyway, and they say a bad workman blames his tools, fortunately I know I’m a bad workman. So this is how not to do gliding. I definitely had trouble with this glider under power it seems to roll and pitch quite violently and I have a lot of issues correcting this as you will tell from this video:

So onto the questions, the first question is how high:


This is the elevation track of the flight against the distance traveled over ground. The ground level is showing as 340ft and the maximum altitude of 1204ft (at approx 84 seconds into the flight) at this altitude I was now having problems seeing the orientation of the glider, and particularly since I find the glider rather unstable under power I decided it best to stop at this height. So this makes the maximum altitude 864ft above the ground.

This leads onto the how far. As you can see the total flight distance is 2.1 miles in a total flight time of 355 seconds (just under 6 minutes). The actual how far away it goes can be seen on this track of the flight.


Although I didn’t try to fly very far away the track shows that the perception of the distance away when flying you think that your plane is far further away than it actually is. I expected to be more than the next field away, this shows that I barely made it out of our field.

The final question was how fast. The top speed on this track was actually 48.5 mph, I have created a graph of speed, height and overlaying the 2 graphs


I dont know if it shows up great, but as you would expect the top speed is when the glider is in a steep dive at 235 seconds into the flight, at the end of a dive when the glider went from just over 600ft (recorded, not above ground) to just under 500ft in about 6 seconds. The speed is of course very volatile with a glider since the wind was fast enough to be able to bring the glider to a halt in the air with the wind speed keeping air flowing over the wings. As you will notice I’m not very good at it so my glider only appears to stop or come close to stationary on 3 occasions other than take off and landing.


Mr Mel is a far better glider pilot than I can hope to be. He has agreed to his tracks and onboard also be added to this post. Although the onboard and the gps track does not relate to the same flight, you can see many better flight characteristics over my fight. Firstly here is the onboard:

As you can see the flight is far smoother than mine, although Mel is still quite critical of how much the glider actually stalls. It show how difficult it can be to fly a glider perfectly when the glider is 500+ft up in the air.

The elevation and the gps track show a much straighter, more uniform climb, he holds position much better in the areas he is getting lift, you can also see this from the speed track which show he is stationary far more often. Perhaps Mr Mel could do a guide to good and bad gliding?





Although not ground breaking I hope that you found this as interesting as I did.

4 thoughts on “How High? How Far? How Fast?”

    1. Yes, that glider is a bit of a handful under power, as you know, and I’m not a great glider pilot. Mr Mel does have a glider path track that looks a lot more like he knows what he’s doing.
      It would be good to find out the top speed of something like the rip slinger or the Viggen, on a 4 cell, and the total distance covered of something like the bixler maybe?

  1. hi chris
    you say you got 2 gps and lost one
    was it in a plane at the time and
    also where did you get it from and most important how much was it
    see you all on the field soon