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CNNSP-06 (01-Jul-2006)

Launch Time:  12:29z
Location:  Grand Island, NE
Max. Altitude:  87,576 ft
Max. Speed: 44 mph
Avg. Speed: 18 mph
Avg. Ascent Rate:  917 ft/min
Avg. Descent Rate:  2059 ft/min
Flight Duration:  2 hrs, 15 min
Distance (Great Circle):  12 mi


Actual vs. Predicted flight paths
Paul Verhage arrived from his home in Idaho Friday afternoon. Several of us met at Valentino’s that evening for dinner and a pre-flight briefing. We agreed to meet at 7:00 AM at Eagle Scout Park the next morning. When I arrived at the launch site, Paul was already there and the southerly wind looked to be a problem for filling the balloon. As the rest of the team arrived we decided to find a different location for filling and launching. We had previously discussed Walnut Middle School’s parking lot, but while en-route to the middle school, Jack suggested Grand Island Senior High School’s parking lot which provided better cover from the wind. The payloads/capsules were checked out, the balloon filled, and launched by 8:00 AM. We headed south out of Grand Island on Highway 281 then east on Highway 34, stopping in Aurora at a convenience store to wait for the burst. Paul was the first to spot the balloon at around 65,000 feet. We decided to head back west prior to balloon burst based on the balloon’s actual track. It appeared that the landing was going to be west of the predicted position. Jack and Gene had separated from us prior to reaching Aurora and were headed back to the west, as well. The balloon burst at around 87,576 feet. As the flight string descended we found that we had now gone too far to the west and worked our way back to the east. We were in range to see the parachute and payloads prior to them reaching the ground. They came to rest in a cornfield approximately 100 yards from some very tall trees. After getting permission from the landowner we all walked down the corn rows to the landing spot. We stopped off at the local Walmart in Grand Island so Paul could get his photos developed, then off to a local Mexican restaurant to look at the digital photos and view portions of the video, while we had lunch. It was good flight and we appreciate Paul driving such a long distance to share a flight and his experience in the hobby with us.