It’s February 23rd and it’s been a while since I’ve written here. A lot has happened since our last launch. We continue to look for that perfect day, nice, sunny and mild winds. We are still having regular meetings as a small technical group, and thinking about where we want to go with our project. After reading the weekly email from the ARRL which introduced the upcoming Youth on the Air (YOTA) camp at the National Voice of America Museum of Broadcasting in West Chester Ohio. I suggested to Michael that we send a balloon kit for them to launch at camp this June. That led to an email to the camp director and a follow up phone conversation with the team that leads the Pico Balloon project at YOTA camp.
While we’re still new and learning about Pico Balloons I had a nice conversation last night with Tom McElroy W4SDR and his son Jack McElroy KM4ZIA. Tom and his family have been launching Pico Balloons for over 10 years, one of which had flown for 81 days circumventing the globe 4 1/2 times. Tom, who had visited our website before our talk and shared his difficulty in finding the right weather for a successful launch. After we spoke I went to their QRZ pages which I hope you will as well to see how this family has gotten together to share our Pico Balloon Hobby with our youth. We will be sending our Pico Balloon package to Tom for them to launch at YOTA camp in June. After we spoke I went back to QRZ to look up his daughter Audrey KM4BUN. Audrey at a very young age produced a YouTube sharing how to make a Pico Balloon. I realized that we had viewed her video when we were first researching Pico Balloons last June. You can follow Audrey, Jack and Tom on QRZ the Team Leads of the YOTA Pico Balloon project.
Tom had shared about being ready to launch on a moments notice. When they were ready to give up because of the wind and night had fallen. Audrey came running into the house saying the winds had died down, they need to launch now. Well now meant preparing the balloon and launching at night, then 81 days and 4 1/2 times around the globe, that was last March.
I shared this conversation in an email with Michael and John for things that we can look forward to. I received a call from Michael this morning that it was a nice sunny day with no wind. After checking windy.com we agreed to meet after he prepared the transmitter package and balloons. While on the road heading north from Chicago I received 2 calls from Michael suggesting we change the launch site to the Northbrook Court parking lot, that was in the general direction where I was going. Then the 2nd call, the Northbrook Court parking lot was under construction which would send us to our last launch site in Highland Park, IL. When I arrived Michael and Roberta Seedman were waiting for me. Michael and I to launch and Roberta to take pictures. He got out of his car and into mine and said what do you think.
Our Sunny day became a partly cloudy day. If we launch into the clouds, the moisture will bring our balloon down. Should we risk it or should we wait. We decided to fold ’em and walk away. We still have our package ready to launch and the $3.00 in balloons is what it cost us to wait for better days.
We have our team working on new launch sites and weather conditions, and who knows, on a moments notice we have the ability to act.
Thanks to the McElroy family for sharing their project with us.
73, Cary KD9ITO