The 2009 Great Plains Super Launch was held in
Saturday dawned with temps in the upper 50s, a near record low for
Our pre-launch forecast put the landing about 10 miles southeast of Garnett. Most of the balloons were launched before ours, with only WB8ELK following us. We headed south of
We headed south on US 59 and stopped just south of
Burst occurred at 1421 UTC (0921 CDT) at 92,119 ft. We were hoping for a slower ascent rate but didn’t want to undershoot our gas fill too much. We left about 300-400 psi in the T cylinder and still got over 1000 ft/min for the average ascent rate.
We stuck around near
We headed south towards Garnett, and it became clear our landing would be somewhere east of town. We turned onto the main east-west street on the north edge of town and headed east. We thought for a while the low-level winds would take us a couple miles out, but then the balloon slowed and we had to turn around and head back to the west.
The payload was now a couple thousand feet off the ground and some distance north of the road we were on. Even from this distance we could see a lot of balloon had fouled on the payload lines, but the chute was left pretty clean and open. We had a nearly perfect photo opportunity as the payloads drifted towards us and finally landed about 100 yards north of where we stopped at 1506 UTC (1006 CDT).
Flight 09-C about to land safely in the pasture.
The landing site was a cow pasture ringed with a fence topped with barbed wire. However, the corner of the pasture had a spot where we could climb over the fence easily enough. Because the pasture had no associated farm house, nor livestock currently in the pasture, I just hopped the fence and walked the short distance in to retrieve the payloads.
After our recovery, we decided to chase Bill WB8ELK’s balloon to its landing. We weren’t in too great of a hurry as we estimated his landing would not be far from Garnett. But his balloon was decending much more rapidly than expected and we raced west out of Garnett to get near the landing. We weren’t quite fast enough and the landing was a couple minutes prior to our arrival. After a quarter-mile hike into the soybeans and a quarter-mile back, we had Bill’s payload too.
The GPSL group met at the Garnett Pizza Hut for our victory lunch. The restaurant crew took the arrival of about 40 people in stride, giving us a party room and were very efficient in providing our lunches. Afterwards, most of us returned to