Spectators watch a balloon launch from the field behind Summerland Secondary School on May 2. The plans were for the balloon to travel 100 to 150 kilometres but the heavy payload reached the building at the corner of Jubilee Road and Kelly Avenue.

Summerland balloon crashes from heavy payload

The flight of a helium balloon on May 2 was considerably shorter and less spectacular than anticipated.

The flight of a helium balloon on May 2 was considerably shorter and less spectacular than anticipated.

The balloon was launched from the field behind Summerland Secondary School on Thursday afternoon.

Earlier predictions and computer models had called for a flight time of 2.5 hours, covering a distance of 100 to 150 kilometres and reaching an elevation of more than 34,000 metres.

The actual flight was much shorter.

The balloon was airborne around 30 seconds, reached an altitude of around two metres and travelled one block before it became entangled in a light standard at the corner of Jubilee Road and Kelly Avenue.

“We didn’t quite reach our goal of 100,000 feet,” said Trevor Knowlton, careers teacher at the high school and coordinator of the balloon project. “We cleared a six-foot fence.”

He said the doomed flight ended early because the payload was too heavy.

Initially, organizers at the school had worked on a two-kilogram payload, but Transport Canada required them to include an aircraft transponder with the rest of the payload.

The transponder, which includes the electronic unit, a battery and a length of cable, roughly doubled the weight of the load.

“Having that equipment on board pushed us over the top,” Knowlton said.

The balloon was rated to carry a payload of up to 2.7 kilograms.

Before the launch, Knowlton and others working with the balloon project filled the balloon as full as possible and attempted to lighten the load, but the payload was still too much for the balloon to handle.

“We pushed the balloon in terms of how much helium it took,” he said.

The strong south wind on Tuesday afternoon was a small factor in the crash, but Knowlton said the flight would have been doomed even if the wind had been calm.

He said the school may attempt a launch again next year, but changes would be made.

In order to lift the payload, a larger balloon, one rated for three to four kilograms would be used.

The video from the launch will be edited and will then be sent to the International Space Station.

Knowlton said the preparation done by the students was impressive.

“We did our best,” he said. “It was a good team effort.”

 

Just Posted

Controlled burns taking place across Okanagan

That smoke you see on Okanagan hillsides is supposed to be there

Snowfall warning between Merritt and Hope

As much as 20 centimteres of the white stuff is expected along a stretch of the Coquhialla

Visiting Vees pound West Kelowna Warriors

The Vees got hat tricks from two players en route to an 11-3 win

Dogs in the classroom

Therapy dogs help young students learn in the Okanagan

B.C.’s minimum wage in the spotlight in Kelowna Tuesday

The Fair Wages Commission will hold a hearing to gather public input

Drones used in search for clues about missing women

A volunteer search party was supported by professional drone operators

B.C. sports groups to address child sex abuse in sports

viaSport is organizing a full day of education in association with Canadian Centre for Child Protection and the Coaching Association of Canada.

Report sets exercise guidelines for young kids, including ‘tummy time’ for babies

Kids aged one to four should get at least three hours of physical activity throughout the day

Stampeders return to Grey Cup with 32-28 win over Edmonton Eskimos

The Stampeders will face the Toronto Argonauts next Sunday in Ottawa for the title

Traxxas Monster Truck Tour to roll into Kelowna

Monster Trucks at Prospera Place on Jan. 13-14, 2018.

Nebraska approves TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline

Nebraska’s Public Service Commission approved TransCanada’s Keystone XL route in a close vote

B.C. VIEWS: China a better partner than U.S.

B.C. is slowly winning the softwood lumber war

Forecast calls for a snowy Canadian winter

Canadians told to brace for a ‘classic’ Canadian winter with lots of snow

Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip celebrate 70th anniversary

The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh are celebrating their platinum wedding anniversary

Most Read