Re: WB8MSJ-1 pico balloon reappears SW of San Diego after doing battle with Hurricane Dora

Barry L. Lankford

Hi Bill,

I've been following the pico balloon race from their launch and have enjoyed following them and been a little surprised at the differences in their paths. Sounds like you've come up with a better demonstration of Chaos Theory than that silly "Butterfly Effect."

I expected some variation of course, but hadn't expected the sudden right turn your Dad's balloon (I think that was the one) took in Texas. I wonder how close together were their launch locations and time? The three seemed to be flying pretty close together for longer than I expected. Also, it took some time before I began to suspect that the three balloons were possibly/probably near-identical and that a race might be underway. I was also surprised that you could get the float altitude to be so close.

Differences in launch location and time; differences in "manufacturing tolerances" of the complete balloon/payload packages; differences in the gas fill and the resulting rate of climb and final altitude; etc - who can say what might have caused the most variation? I doubt any butterflies were involved. The slight differences in initial conditions result in a slow accumulation of differences in location such that very local weather differences around each balloon can, more and more, come into play. From there, essentially, the balloons are soon racing on entirely different race courses.

By the way, I guess I'd never known before what your Dad's call sign was, but I got very curious when I saw half of _MY_ call sign ("MSJ") on one of the pico balloons and eventually looked it up to see who it belonged to. Or maybe I'd known that previously and old age just took its toll - again! I guessed that WB4ELK would be Bev, not exactly a great leap in intellect on my part, but maybe it's a small sign the old brain hasn't completely rotted away.

Barry N4MSJ
PS, Glad to see WB8MSJ-1 is back in the race since I now feel I have a sort of tenuous "connection" with it.

On 7/1/2017 12:33 AM, [GPSL] wrote:
There are now officially still three balloons in the GPSL Pico Balloon Race on Day 13. My Dad's balloon WB8MSJ-1 just reappeared after being lost for a week over the Pacific south of Baja California. It fought a valiant battle with Hurricane Dora and looks like it survived the encounter nicely. It is flying at the same altitude as before and is about 300 miles SW of San Diego. Bev WB4ELK-4 is predicted currently to be just east of Bermuda (their only APRS iGate was blown down by a hurricane and has not been replaced) while Mike KD2EAT-13 is well into the lead speeding along across Turkmenistan. It is possible that KD2EAT-13 and WB8MSJ-1 might meet up over Hawaii in a few days after flying in opposite directions around the World :-)
- Bill WB8ELK

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