This is one of the coolest stories for the year I think. Ron Meadows, K6RPT and his son, Lee, launched a high altitude balloon along with the group they lead, the California NEAR Project, on December 11th. The balloon was caught in the jet stream at an altitude between 105,000 and 115,000 feet.
From there, the balloon was carried east at a speed of about 150 miles an hour and traveled across the United States, all along the way transmitting it’s APRS beacon of K6RPT-11. It then continued to travel across the Atlantic Ocean to Spain into the Mediterranean Sea. The balloon had traveled 6236 great circle miles in just 57 hours.
From the Southgate ARC website:
The balloon, which bore the call sign K6RPT-11 and could be tracked via APRS, traveled through California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey. “When the balloon left the New Jersey shore behind, it was received by coastal stations as far away as Nova Scotia,” explained CNSP Team Member Don Ferguson, KD6IRE. “When it exceeded the range of these stations, we lost track of it and feared that we would not hear from the balloon again.”
The balloon finally came down December 14th, when it burst off the coast of Algeria.
This is a pretty exciting event and sure to peak the interests of people and perhaps inspire some to try High Altitude Ballooning themselves. This flight for the California Near Space Project was by far a huge success and I can’t wait to read more about their future flights.