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

Summerland Giant’s Head Run features Retro ’80s theme

Event will be held Saturday, June 1 at 6 p.m.

VIDEO: Bakers find inspiration in the news

Summerland Bakers’ Club potluck featured recipes inspired by news items

Okanagan-Shuswap weather: rain, clouds, thunderstorms and flash floods

Environment Canada forecasts dreadful weather for Thursday

Ripley strives for family atmosphere

Summerland business has manufactured stainless steel tanks for 40 years

DeLongs create sterling silver jewelry

Studio in Summerland has many unique pieces available

Hundreds of homeowners angered over proposed development on WFN land

Westbank First Nation are seeking to rezone Lot 348-3 from low density to high density area

Music and comedy event benefit Okanagan woman’s cancer battle

Fundraiser for Sue Folliott Sunday, May 26 at The Kal

Documentary on former hockey star to air in Kelowna

The story of 5-time Stanley Cup winner Grant Fuhr comes to Kelowna June 16

Unbe-leaf-able: Agassiz man finds more than 200 four-leaf clovers in a month

Walt Hardinge has found more than 219 four-or-more leaf clovers this spring alone

Trudeau visits Kamloops

Justin Trudeau met with the Kamloops mayor and First Nations

Crews fight fire with fire to keep blaze from northern Alberta town

The wildfire now covers some 920 square kilometres

Man in B.C. charged with murder and arson in 2016 New Brunswick death

He is charged in the death of 71-year-old Lucille Maltais, who was found inside a burned down home

Young Vernon melanoma survivor speaks out about sun danger

World Melanoma Day is recognized every May to highlight the growing prevalence of malignant melanoma.

Kelowna fundraiser returns to support African grandmothers

The 2019 Stride to Turn the Tide walk is June 1

Most Read