Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics

First Advisor

Frederick G. Harmon, PhD.


Excitement among researchers about Airborne Wind Energy (AWE) technology matches DoD aims to advance and employ renewable energy. AWE seeks to cost-effectively tap the vast supply of wind energy available at altitudes high above the reach of conventional, ground-based wind turbines (e.g. 500-12,000m). This paper explores viability and implementation of AWE technology for fulfilling USAF energy needs. Characteristics, potential, and developmental status of the AWE resource are presented. A design tool for a rotor-based AWE system is developed, facilitating the analysis of blade performance to simplify design and provide the best efficiencies for a range of conditions. USAF bases are evaluated upon energy needs, design requirements, and other factors to determine which bases could benefit most from AWE. Bases most viable for an AWE project, with 75% potential savings on energy costs/base (up to $40M annually for larger bases), are: Tinker, Vance, Wright-Patt, Arnold, Ellsworth, and Grand Forks. Key results reveal it is possible to achieve notable benefits for the USAF using AWE technology.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number