29th. February 2019. Another successful Balloon chase.

Tom, VK5EE, and I haven’t chased a balloon for a little while now as the landing predictions have placed them just a little bit too far away. The prediction for Thursday 29th. looked promising though.

NOTE: Double click on the photo’s to enlarge.

It looked as though it would land just South of Dartmoor in Victoria. We waited until it had landed and decided that it might be do-able, even although it appeared that the landing site was surrounded by scrub and Pine Plantations which would make the effort a bit risky.

We loaded up the gear and headed off.

Here is a map showing our track.

We made a bit of a detour into Dartmoor to have a look at Fort O’Hare on the Glenelg River, which is where Major Mitchell established his base Camp for a boat trip down the river to the Mouth.

We drove South along the Wanwin Road and quickly picked up the Balloons signal on 401.5 Mhz. When we got to where we thought the Balloon had come down we lost the signal, Hmmm. We backtracked and turned down a Salmic Road which was heading East toward the River. Halfway along this Road we again lost the signal. Returning to  Wanwin Road we stopped, and Tom got out his newly built yagi antenna and was able to establish that we had passed the Balloon further back toward Dartmoor. We backtracked again, stopping to check the signal strength a few times until we parked on the side of the Road in C.S.R. Lane. It was 36 degrees Celsius outside, (We must qualify for a “Nut Case Award”), but we got out and started walking South back along the road.

At this point I was beginning to think that we had wasted our time because the area was surrounded by trees and Scrub and the chance of the Balloon ending up high above ground looked very possible.

After walking for several hundred metres, and in a couple of false directions, (due to reflection of the signal), Tom reckoned that we must have been almost standing on the Balloon.

I spotted a bit of clear plastic almost on the edge of the bitumen. When we got closer we found that it was the parachute. At first we assumed that the balloon and it’s payload must have hit the High Tension Power lines which were running alongside the road and the tether had been cut, but on tracking the tether we found the Sonde just off the Road about 20 metres from the Parachute.

How lucky can you get.

After picking up the remnants of the Balloon we headed for home.

Tom’s new home brewed yagi performed very well indeed and without it we almost certainly would not have been able to find the Sonde.

Another interesting and enjoyable few hours out and about. (Even though it was VERY HOT). We were very careful where we went with the car, being conscious of the risk of hot exhausts and very dry grass. We made sure that we only parked on patches of bare ground.

Until next time, I hope that you enjoyed this post and I am hopeful that the next one will be a multi S.A. Park Activation on 23rd. & 24th. March. Watch this space..

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