With a forecast temperature of 40C, (104F), today Tom, VK5EE, and I were in two minds about chasing this one.
a. Extreme fire danger.
b. High levels of personal discomfort.
We decided to watch and wait, as usual, but the balloon needed to land in the clear and not in a Pine Plantation as access is prohibited in the event of a fire ban.
The prediction looked promising.
I had to attend to another matter and we therefore did not set off until 2.30 p.m., well after the balloon had landed. The Balloons keep transmitting until the internal battery goes flat and so we felt that we should still be able to pick up the signal and direction find it.
We headed North through Tarpeena and turned right onto P.O.W. Road. As per our track we turned left and again headed North after about five Km.
Once on the right track, (Between an open paddock on our left and a stand of Pine trees on our right we picked up the signal).
Tom got out of the car, and after connecting his home built yagi with it’s attenuator in line, he walked along the track waving the antenna about. I followed in the car as it was apparent that we were a fair way short of the Balloon. (I’m not silly – it was bloody hot out there and the car air conditioner was working well).
It quickly became apparent that I had got the wrong clump of trees and we had to travel to the second clump before we arrived at the spot that Hab Hub indicated for the approximate landing spot. (Sorry Tom).
At this point Tom had full attenuation switched in and the signal was still booming in. We hopped the fence into the paddock.
After wandering around for ten minutes or more scanning the open paddock and gazing up into the large gum trees we were not able to visually find any trace of the Balloon, (which I thought a bit unusual).
I had almost given up and was retracing my steps back toward the road when I spotted the Sonde lying on the ground.
Once we picked it up it was obvious that the tether line had been cut, either by being dragged back and forth across a branch or the trunk of a tree as there was no sign of the 10 metres or so of tether line or the remnants of the Balloon or the parachute. Very strange.
We scanned the trees once again but still no sign of the rest of the bits. Maybe the Land Owner saw the mess of the remains of the Balloon and parachute while checking his stock and picked it up to avoid the sheep trying to eat it. Whatever – the absence of the remains shall remain a mystery- but we rescued the main bit.
Having, once again, found the Sonde we headed for home.
Despite the oppressive heat it was a good couple of hours and another successful outcome. Good fun.
Until next time.