Needing to be at Calthorpe Park School in Fleet for 8:15am meant an early start for half the team (Jon Sowman, Matthew Brejza, Matt Brown and Alex Lay) to help out with pre-flight checks. We then drove with the school’s STEM launch team to Snelsmore Common near Newbury to meet the other half of our team (Oli Crump, Polly Osborne and George Winstone). After a 15 minute search for a large enough launch site we settled on a picnic area surrounded by trees, meaning a tricky launch if the wind were to pick up within the next 2 hours of preparations.
Luckily the weather stayed on our side by remaining still for the entire time meaning one of the easiest balloon fillings in Jon’s long history of launches. Jon and Matthew also brought the 2 newest members of the team, Alex and Matt, up to speed on how best to fill the balloon and prepare the electronics for future launches.
Then the chase begun, leading us towards Alresford near Winchester and we narrowed the search down to one suburban road and concluded it had landed in a back garden. After knocking some doors we found out it was either in the garden of a family on holiday or the house of someone not in. Luckily after discussing our options for about 10 minutes the owner arrived back from work and was happy to look for us. He came back with the news he had found it, but around 4 metres off the ground tied up in his tree.
And so we went to cutting parts of the string with a tall tree pruner to retrieve the payload, so happily avoiding a bad end to the day and instead ending up with a successful launch.