Auckland, New Zealand: It has been a few weeks since the last Team New Zealand Project Speed update and in that time things have been coming together well and with speed.
As the clock ticks down to any launch time, all the elements of a project need to be coming together to meet perfectly at the critical point on the timeline. It is when all parts and components from all areas of manufacture or production need to be completed to plug together to form the working Landspeed craft so testing can begin.
“The boat building guys have done an absolutely marvellous job with the construction over the past couple of months and obviously the big effort put into the design, previous to that, they’ve done an amazing job to get through what they have in such a short period of time,” Land speed pilot, Glenn Ashby, said.
“There’s hundreds and hundreds of components that have been machined and then laminated and all that’s got to come together, right at that final time to eventually get on the land.”
Project Manager Sean Regan has been the familiar man in the middle of it all, making sure the project remains on schedule.
“Everything in house is on schedule, however we have a couple of short weeks coming up with Easter and Anzac weekend, which is a hard one,” Regan explained.
“I have allowed 4 weeks of trialling in Auckland and then a pack up, and then allowed 5 weeks for shipping which puts us in Aussie in the second week of July assembling.”
Throughout the past year, there has been one significant absence around the base in Auckland, and that is Ashby himself. Stuck in Australia, restricted to endless zoom meetings, the good news is the borders are now open which will allow him to travel back to New Zealand at the end of the month to prepare for testing, when the rubber hits the road.
“The borders have finally opened and to be finally able to come back over is absolutely fantastic. To be there for the final cockpit fit out and the final assembly is exciting and so is to then do some testing through early to mid-May.” he explained.
“Once we’ve done the testing, it’ll be pretty much boxing everything up and getting it into containers and then shipping it across to Australia to be trucked out to the venue and get set up in the Australian desert.”
When put this way, it all sounds relatively straightforward and easy but the team can only control so much of the overall project. Let’s not underestimate the necessity of Mother Nature to get on board if the project is to be successful – and we all know there is no control of that element.
Right now, the Wind Powered Land speed record location – Lake Gairdner, the vast salt lake in South Australia – is still underwater after unprecedented floods in Australia this year.
“It’s normally a dry salt lake, but at the moment It’s a wet salt lake, so we’ve got another few weeks of drying out to be done,” said Ashby, who has been following the water levels and conditions meticulously via satellite imagery and weather forecasts on a daily basis.
“There’s still about six inches of water in the actual like itself. Having said that, they’re getting 32 to 34 degree days over there in good breeze at the moment, so that evaporation is happening very, very quickly. Hopefully, that will leave us a beautiful surface once it does dry, out and make for a very fast and flat runway for us when we get there.”
The project is all about speed and it’s coming together at pace. Stay tuned.