On November 9, 2003, Ray Cooper wrote his name into the aeromodelling history books by setting a new world altitude record for an "Electric Propelled, Radio Controlled Aircraft". NOTE

At 08:30 Eastern Australian Summer Time Ray flew his "Big Bird" to a height of 2,573 metres (above the launch point and exceeding the previous record by 373 metres) before terminating the flight.


Daryl Gunst (VMAA President) with Ray Cooper (r)

Photo : P5140770 : © 2004 John Bird

Ray Cooper is presented with his formal FAI "Diploma and Record" certificate for his "World Altitude Record for an Electric Propelled, Radio Controlled Aircraft" by Daryl Gunst President of the Victorian Model Aircraft Association (VMAA)

The MAAA, the overall governing Aeromodelling organisation 'Down Under' and parent body of the VMAA, recognising this achievement, has admitted Ray into the Model Aviation Association of Australia 'Hall of Fame'.



Full Report

Quicktime Video [8.8Mb]

Area Location Map A3@300dpi 2.5Mb  |  A4@300dpi 1Mb

Aircraft Technical Fact Sheet
List of Observers
Flight Declaration
Flight Confirmation Application


Data Log

The Day in Pictures


Ray Cooper, designer, builder and pilot of "Big Bird"

Photo : © 2003 Julie Bird


Official FAI Observer Ray Pike weighs "Big Bird" as Ray watches on

Photo : PB086982 : © 2003 Julie Bird


Ray watches as Ray Pike as he formally measures "Big Bird"

Photo : PB086995 : © 2003 Julie Bird


Ray and three generations of the McMahon family
owners of the land where the event took place

L to R : Pat, Ray, Kevin and Bernie

Photo : 155_5507 : © 2003 Julie Bird


Pre-launch check and documentation of
instrumentation settings

L- R : Ray Pike, Pilot Ray Cooper and Ian Renolds using a digital stills camera to record the settings pre-launch (see below). NB. similar recordings of
instrumentation readings would be made upon landing.

Photo : 153-5340 : © 2003 John Bird


GPS and 'Talking' Clock timer

Photo : DCP 2886 : © 2003 Ian Renolds


Ray Cooper assembling "Big Bird" for the early morning flight
"Big Bird" is constructed from traditional materials a balsa and ply
frame covered with tissue paper

Photo : PB097029 : © 2003 Julie Bird


Ray Pike overseeing pilot Ray Cooper's equipment installation

Photo : DCP 2852 : © 2003 Ian Reynolds


"Big Bird' equipment bays

Photo : DCP 2885 : © 2003 Ian Reynolds


Ray documenting installation procedure

Photo : DCP 2930 : © 2003 Ian Reynolds


Ray Pike double checking installation procedure

Photo : DCP 2935 : © 2003 Ian Reynolds


Ray Cooper, pilot and Prof.Greg Egan
(Monash University support team) going through
the extensive pre-launch check list

Photo : 153-5357 : © 2003 John Bird


Ray Cooper, designer, builder and pilot of "Big Bird"
Note the head-mounted binoculars Ray constructed
to visually track the aircraft

Photo : PB086920 : © 2003 Julie Bird


Ray Pike and pilot Ray Cooper make
final assembly pre-flight checks of "Bird Bird"

Photo : PB097068 : © 2003 Julie Bird


Ray Pike - hand launches "Big Bird" from the launch /landing marker

Note the blue coloured marker plate just behind his rear most foot

Photo : PB097070 : © 2003 Julie Bird


Flight in progress

L- R : Ray Cooper, Ray Pike, Prof Greg Egan.Ray is flying
with the aid of head-mounted binoculars whilst the
observers are using hand-held binoculars. A clear cloudless
blue sky adds to the difficulty of keeping track of the aircraft

Photo : 154-5408 : © 2003 John Bird


Ray is piloting from a recliner office chair
Note that he is able to steer and track the flight path of the
aircraft simply by using his feet to swivel the chair around

Photo : 154-5410 : © 2003 John Bird


Ray's daughter Emma shades her father from
the early morning sun glare

"Big Bird" has now reached 2,573 meters. Ray is on his own,
the minutest movement or lapse of concentration will result in
a fly-away. Note Ray's hand on the transmitter he's trimming the
flaps for a long slow glide back down to the launch point.

Photo : 154-5414 : © 2003 John Bird


"Hi Honey, I'm Home" A low-pass 'salute' to the support crew

Photo : PB097101 : © 2003 Julie Bird


Wash off speed, flaps down for the final approach

Photo : PB086971 : © 2003 Julie Bird


A return from 2,573 meters

Photo : PB086945 : © 2003 Julie Bird


Ready to touch down,
how close to the marker plate can he get?

Photo : PB086946 : © 2003 Julie Bird


Almost there

Ray with wife Anne and daughters Emma and Bethanie (r)

Photo : PB087095 : © 2003 Julie Bird


Yahoo!- a new world altitude record
The smile of success

Photo : PB097107 : © 2003 Julie Bird


A superbly accurate landing - 60 cm from the
blue coloured marker plate

Duration of flight: 31 mins 30 sec. (12 mins to max altitude 2,573 m)

Photo : PB097110 : , © 2003 Kevin Mc Mahon


Ray and his very proud family

Wife Anne and daughters Emma and Bethanie (r)

Photo : 154-5403 : © 2003 Julie Bird


"Big Bird", Ray Cooper and the support team at the landing spot

Photo : PB097114 : © 2003 Julie Bird

The FAI has recognised the following Class F (Model Aircraft) record claim :

Claim number : 7982
Sub-class F5-S (Aeroplane, electric motor (rechargeable sources of current)
F5: Radio Controlled Flight Category
Type of record : No.173 : Gain in altitude
Course/location : Boralma (Australia)
Performance : 2,573 m
Pilot : Raymond COOPER (Australia)
Date: 09.11.2003
Past record : 2'200 m (19.11.2000 - Wolfgang SCHAEPER, Germany)

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