Flight 4 Aug 21, 2017

Timing

We knew were going to the eclipse. After the decision was made to stay in western Oregon and away from the crowds of central Oregon, we just had to find a location to launch from. We knew were wanted to get the balloon well into the atmosphere as totality approached.

Launch

Launch took place in at 8:15am in from just east of Independence, OR in the zone of totality for the solar eclipse. The launch location was shifting to ensure we avoided the forest near Corvallis, OR and stayed in zone of totality. We were shifting the location in the early morning hours of Eclipse day. Sleeping in the car wasn't that bad with all the excitement of the day.

Highlights

  1. The Eclipse!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  2. What a recovery story thanks to the amazing Fulton family. Friends forever!
  3. GPS tracking worked perfectly on both units.
  4. Not as much traffic as predicted for the eclipse along the I-5 corridor.
  5. Our balloon shining brightly during totality at 60,000ft. It was as bright as a Venus in the night sky.

Landing

The landing was only about 2 miles away from where we predicted. The ascent was a bit slower and thus more time in the winds. The result was deep in the Oregon forest, type of forest with 100+ft trees. We were able to locate via our GPS tracking which both worked. They confirmed the location. The spot looked close to roads but Google Maps wasn't update with private vs. public roads. A gate blocked our way miles away from the landing. We found a neighbor and secured permission to hike in. After 20 minutes along the road, our handheld GPS, showed a road was supposed to be there. There wasn't one. We followed the blue track on the map below. The next two hours was whacking through bushes, climbing steep hills, clambering across a small stream, and fighting dense, dense branches. We progressed slowly, stopping in the middle to have a team vote whether to abandoned the recovery. It was that tough! We decided to continue and finally found a fire road that took us closer to the area. Once in the right grove of trees we hunted and hunted until spotting the colorful parachute nested in the tree canopy about one hundred feet off the ground. With no was to climb the tree and a 30 foot recovery pole, we marked the tree and hiked out. The disappointment was wide spread after that difficult hike, though the way out we were finally able to locate the clear trail you can see on the map below.

Upon getting back to the cars and waiting parents, we shared the predictament. Talking with the neighbor we had met before, we were so grateful they were on board to help. They arranged to have some skilled tree climbers attempt recovery. Three days later, we got a text message showing the balloon back on the ground. Two days in UPS and it arrived back in Folsom with one GPS still transmitting.

We are forever in debt to the Fulton family for their help in this recovery.

Our Flight 4 capsule. Designed and 3D printed by the team. This went through stress testing with roof drops resulting in modifications.

Flight path from east of Independence to near Benton, OR. The blue line is the center of the zone of totality during the eclipse.

Videos showing seconds after take off and high above Central Oregon. Shot with a Ricoh Theta S

2:06:00 shows the coming eclipse shadow, the video goes into darkness as the eclipse shadow envelopes the balloon.

3:27:00 show the balloon burst

Link to our interview on Capital Public Radio