The Launch Of Sky-Eye II - Flight
July 20th was a red-letter day for the Loudoun
Amateur Radio Group as we conducted our 4th High Altitude Balloon Flight
- perhaps our best yet. In spite of some changes from our previous flight
operation, the whole operation went very smoothly.
The launch team departed Round Hill, Virginia, at about 05:45 EDT for Augusta,
West Virginia, with 2 tanks of helium, one 1000g balloon and a couple of
600 gram spares.
We arrived at
Augusta Elementary School on US 50 at about 07:30 EDT and began setting up.
Advance preparation paid off as we were able to setup and execute the
plan without a hitch. We did have to stop and think a bit about the free
lift calculation, but the program provided some years ago by Temp Titus,
W4HZV, kept us straight - 16 lbs of lift just seemed like a lot.
With calm winds the balloon was laid out and all filling preparations completed.
A short conversation with Mission Control cleared us for filling while Mission
Control and the Tracking Stations continued to complete their checklists.
|The balloon gradually filled to the requisite lift and the neck was tied off and flight train attached. As the wind started to pick up, we called Mission Control for clearance to launch.|
Once cleared, we moved the train a little up wind to make certain we would
clear all obstacles, and released the balloon. In a few seconds the flight
train was aloft and the "Balloon Away" call to Mission Control was made at
We visually tracked the balloon for a few minutes and tried some pictures.
the signal almost immediately.
We had the launch site packed up and ready to roll by about T+10 minutes
and headed east for Winchester as the flight progressed. Altitude telemetry
indicated about a 1000 feet per minute rate of climb, which was our objective.
telemetry remained nominal throughout the flight.
Ascent continued until about 88 minutes into the flight when the telemetry indicated descent had begun.Trackers continued to monitor the downlink until telemetry indicated touchdown. In a happy departure from our other flights, we never lost the signal.
Strong signal levels were observed from the North Mountain and Winchester areas and the hunt was on. Trackers continued to converge on the touchdown location until we knew we were right on top of it in a heavily wooded mountainous area of Great North Mountain, west of Winchester.
Thanks for the
great team work.