We lunched Little Piggy Globe Trotter on Saturday August 12 at about 9 AM EDT. Little Piggy reached a steady altitude around 30,000 feet and started making it’s way to the east as predicted. 30,000 feet was a little lower than we had hoped but we were able to pick up the lower level of the jet stream and maintain a ground speed of around 60 MPH.
APRS tracking was very successful even with only transmitting 20 milliwatt. The transmit rate was set at two minutes and we were able to copy most of them through the APRS-IS network. The secondary frequency was able to be heard and decoded up to about 38 miles using my truck and it’s small roof mounted antenna.
Little Piggy caught up to a cold front and it’s associated thunderstorm line over Maryland. That particular line of thunderstorms had produced several sever thunderstorm warnings and a few tornado warnings a little while before Piggy caught up. We thought we were going to be able to float along the back side of the storm having passed the first cell we encountered successfully but after reaching the second and more powerful cell it looks like we were pulled in side. Temperature reading dropped from around 50 F to -4 F in a matter of minutes and raise and fall rates were changing drastically with each transmission. We think that hail likely caused the balloon to fail and the last couple of reading we received were actually while the package was riding up and down on wind currents in the storm. The last transmission we received was at an altitude of 24,863 feet, ground speed 54 MHP, and a temperature of 31.4 F near Emmitsburg, Maryland.
After a few days of waiting Little Piggy Globe Trotter didn’t show back up so the likelihood she was lost in the storm is pretty good.
We are going to try and put up another long duration flight and a high altitude balloon the weekend of August 26, 2017.
Updates on this and other flights can be found on our Facebook page.