Desert dust devil thermal lift of foot launched aircraft – possible?

Imagine being in the hot desert in summer with your hand glider or paraglider and basically foot launching with a short run and a jump on flat ground. Possible? I think so. Especially if there is a dust devil passing by. But what about without one? Maybe one can still launch. Thermal activity in the desert in summer is evident everywhere everyday. Could you fly the desert like an eagle? Afterall: Solar balloons prove foot launch is possible, for them in the desert. I wonder if fixed wing can too!

Ricky’s gone
free lift. Ok so this is actually in Australia and thats a dust devil, so this kind of proves my hypothesis, and in fact this clip motivated me to consider desert flat ground launch possibilities, however keep in mind they are already situated on a mountain top getting sweet ridge lift off the slope. The ultimate test would be to not go anywhere near a designated paraglider launch site like the above in the vid, and basically try to launch on a nil wind day on flat ground in the middle of the desert, either with or without dust devil.
ideal solar balloon weather except the dust devil would tear it up (Or lift it higher… I dunno)
thats some great free lift. In my opinion, the possibility of takeoff with dust devils is best with fixed wing, like a hang glider, because paraglider wings may start to conform to the fluid motion of the cyclonic air and basically whip around with a high chance of the wing collapsing or getting tangled. Eagles use the lift up high but for a person to takeoff with such turbulence may be difficult in regards stability. Up high the cyclonic turbulence mellows out.
gets good at 7:50
here is a weak dust devil that I think could be used to foot launch (Probably start experimenting with the weaker ones until graduating to the 60m tall, car flipping dust monsters) That guy’s hat got spat out of the cyclone. If you flew a fixed wing glider over that, at 5 meters above ground level: what would happen?
some lingering lift. What about a special new aircraft that is like an Inspector Gadget extension with a chopper blade, like a reverse autogyro. You basically walk into the action and the blade in sympathetic motion will spin with the rotating vortex and you will catch some lift and go up.
Here is a huge dust devil. You see these in Australia in the outback, although they are orange colour and seem more furious than this one, but about the same dimensions. Some dare devil could foot launch a hand glider into this dust devil.
Autorotate in reverse and climb into the sky in a dust devil.
Mary Poppins was an early adopter to this technology.
here is a weaker example

the sand would radiate heat

And how high can you go? Imagine getting to say 17000 feet from a desert flat ground foot launch. You could cruise for a hundred miles.

100m jump on this bike

Or if thermals are guaranteed, but one cannot achieve a flat ground foot launch, one could use a launch motor powered by a battery, and there could be either a stowed flexible solar ‘sheet’ one could outlay upon landing to recharge the launch battery, or the solar panel sheet could be permanently incorporated in the top of the wing.

To compare to eagles in the desert, they are often found eating on the ground and they must launch with a full stomach, by flapping. I wonder how much eagles need to flap before they find a thermal ‘elevator’ and can then go up to 8000 feet without further exertions.

rare footage of an eagle taking off
They can flap but they prefer to glide


I think we can agree on some basic observable facts here: 1: The Dust Devil contains enough energy to lift a paraglider. 2: eagles use dust devils to soar very high and to do aerobatics.

Beyond that Im sure there is some way to utilise rising hot desert air to launch from flat ground. Fixed wing seems safer than paraglider wings, as they are not going to change shape in the cyclone’s high velocity rotating air mass. Also the Inspector Gadget idea would certainly work – if you could keep steering back into the updraught. What about a glider wing that folds shut for launch under rotor power then at height the wings can be unfolded and transition from rotor lift to fixed wing. The ability to foot launch from flat ground would give one the ability to fly basically across most if not all of any desert.

Desert dust devil thermal lift of foot launched aircraft – possible?

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