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CNNSP-08 (16-Jun-2007)

Launch Time:  14:03 UTC
Launch Location:  Grand Island, NE
Max. Altitude:  96,499 feet
Max. Speed:  27 mph
Avg. Speed:  12 mph
Avg. Ascent Rate:  920 ft/min
Avg. Descent Rate:  2804 ft/min
Flight Duration:  2 hrs, 17 min

Blue - actual track
Green - predicted ascent
Red - predicted descent
Our first flight of 2007 was a success, in that all of the payloads were recovered without incident, however, there were a few lessons learned. A nice group of all ages joined us at the launch site to help with pre-flight duties. The surface winds were light and made for an easy inflation and release.  Due to the light winds aloft we hung around the launch site and leisurely packed things up and watched the flight climb away.  After helping with the balloon fill and launch, Kevin and Rog F. made their way to the airport to provide us a view from above in a Cessna 172. Four carloads of us headed out in similar directions and the chase was on. Arlene KCØZWX and I spent the majority of the flight sitting off the side of the road a few miles south of PhilipsNE. We were not in position to get a visual on the descending payloads and we were on the opposite side of the Platte River from the landing location. Arlene and I made our way to the landing location and the other three carloads had already arrived. We were on one side of a row of trees and everyone else was on the other attempting to rescue the payloads from the grasp of a tree. The chase plane had spotted the parachute in the trees and talked us in to where the others were. The new payload performed well, but the coaxial dipole antenna didn’t survive the balloon burst. Many attempts were made to make an earth-balloon-balloon-earth (EBBE) contact using the CNNSP and EOSS airborne digipeaters, but no joy. 

Lesson #1: I was hoping to get some video of the balloon bursting, but the ascent rate was too slow and I started the camera a bit too early. I do have 2 hours of the balloon expanding if anyone cares to watch. =(  

Lesson #2: Out of the 300+ pictures taken in flight, only about a dozen were worth sharing. I normally wedge something in the top of the camera’s compartment to point the lens below horizontal. I forgot to do that and have lots of pictures of blue sky. We did manage to get a photo of an airliner from about 48,000 feet and a couple of pictures of my place of work, Platte Generating Station.  The landing was uncomfortably close to one of NPPD’s largest high voltage switchyards. This was our first landing in a tree, but thanks to some help from the property’s renter, the payloads were recovered without too much trouble. Next flight the chase plane will have a different APRS setup to more easily allow them to keep track of us and the payloads and the KCØZWX payload will have a better antenna. Thanks to everyone that helped out.