Project T-B.A.C is an "aircraft" launched by using trash bags on August 24th 2011. The project was designed and created by Manuja Gunaratne - a high school senior. The aircraft was launched from the Las Vegas valley area and managed to capture stunning pictures of the Earth.

Various similar projects have been done previously using weather balloons; however, Project T.B.A.C varies since it utilized trash bags to capture images of the Earth. Even though it did not reach an altitude as much as a weather balloon, it managed to capture stunning images of the Earth from a high altitude.

The project consisted of three major components: trash bags, payload, and a parachute. The payload consisted of a GPS tracking device and a digital camera to take images of the journey. After planning the project thoroughly, I chose August 24th because that day was very warm and clear with light winds. T.B.A.C managed to stay in flight for approximately 3 hours and captured roughly 2000 pictures using a 3 second interval.

T.B.A.C Journey

Here are some more information about the project:

Trash Bags Contractor's Choice 55 gallons Trash Bags
Launch Time 9:44 A.M PDT ( 12:44 P.M EDT)
Landing Time 1:02 P.M PDT ( 4:02 P.M EDT)
Launch Date August 24th 2011
Launch Location Las Vegas, Nevada 36.17482 , -115.27855
Recovery Date August 25th 2011
Recovery Location Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge
37.20284 , -115.18373
Camera Canon A495 Digital Camera
GPS Device Spot GPS Messenger - sponsored by GPS Insight
Payload Weight 650g
Flight Duration 3 hours and 18 minutes

On August 23rd 2011 ( 1 day prior to the launching ), I studied on how to fill up trash bag with Helium and estimated the trajectory path of the trash bag. Then that afternoon, I rented a Helium gas tank from a local welding supply store ( DJB Gas Services ). Early morning on Wednesday August 24th 2011, my father I left for the launching site to start filling up the trash bags. After about 30 minutes of filling trash bags with Helium, we finally launched Project T.B.A.C from our launching site. Soon the trash bag powered aircraft soared to high altitudes to capture stunning images!


As soon as the T.B.A.C rose up into the sky, we rushed to the local welding shop and returned the Helium gas tank. Then, promptly, went to my house where I tracked the aircraft for the next three hours. I impatiently sat in front of the computer waiting for the GPS device to update its current position.

To my relief, it updated it’s location every 5 minutes. During the whole three hours, I was very nervous and scared that T.B.A.C might land in a vast desert, hundreds of miles away from a sign of civilization! Luckily, after three hours of anxious waiting, I found out that T.B.A.C has landed on Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge. I was relieved when I saw this because there are at least mud roads leading to the landing location.


Promptly, my father I drove to Alamo, Nevada where the aircraft landed. We drove for 2 hours that afternoon and arrived at the Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge at around 4 p.m. We searched the area whole evening but failed to recover the aircraft. Disappointed, we returned to Las Vegas where we planned a search mission on the next morning.

Early morning, our neighbor allowed us to borrow his handheld GPS device to track the aircraft. Early that morning, we left for Alamo, Nevada. We arrived at the landing location transmitted by the GPS tracking device inside T.B.A.C, but could not find it. So we were amazed and wondered the cause for this mystery.

Disappointed, we left for the Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge headquarters hoping to receive some assistance from the wild life rangers. Luckily, an officer examined the handheld GPS device and corrected the format of the coordinates entered. Excited, we rushed to the area that T.B.A.C landed.

We rushed in a mud road to a close proximity of the landing location and parked our car at the last place that the car could go. Then, we started a 3 miles long walk to the landing location. Passing through mountainous hills, we walked to the landing site and located the trash bag aircraft. We recovered the aircraft and soon returned to Las Vegas.



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