London weather bal­loon found — in Penn­syl­va­nia

St. Thomas Times-Journal - - LOCAL NEWS - JENNIFER BIEMAN POST­MEDIA NEWS

London asked and Penn­syl­va­nia de­liv­ered.

H.B. Beal sec­ondary school’s way­ward weather bal­loon is head­ing home, thanks to a kind-hearted Grade 4 class from north­ern Penn­syl­va­nia.

“We were all ex­cited about it, it’s pretty awe­some,” said Robert Rau­den­bush, Grade 4 teacher at Port Al­le­gany el­e­men­tary school

“It’s funny how things just fall on your lap.”

Beal’s high-fly­ing ex­per­i­ment was only sup­posed to travel 150 kilo­me­tres, but drifted twice as far — cross­ing Lake Erie be­fore com­ing to rest in moun­tain val­ley in ru­ral Penn­syl­va­nia.

When Beal teacher Dung Tiet ap­pealed to the lo­cal news­pa­per and took to so­cial me­dia to get the bal­loon back, about five dif­fer­ent peo­ple went on the hunt for the he­lium-filled zep­pelin – but the Grade 4 class wasn’t one of them. In fact, the bal­loon found them. “Hunt­ing sea­son just ended here in Penn­syl­va­nia and a hunter spot­ted it caught in a tree,” ex­plained Rau­den­bush.

The hunter called it in to the Penn­syl­va­nia Depart­ment of Forestry and forester Wade Kisler, the fa­ther of one of Rau­den­bush’s Grade 4 stu­dents, went to see for him­self.

The busted bal­loon was 20 me­ters up, tan­gled in the branches of a tow­er­ing oak.

“He went out with his chain­saw and cut down the oak tree that it was in . . . Then he brought it to us here at the school and said ‘maybe there’s some­thing you can do with this,’ and we took it from there,” he said.

Rau­den­bush said he didn’t know about the bal­loon’s story when it ar­rived, and just called the phone num­ber scrawled on the out­side.

The sty­ro­foam box at­tached to the weather bal­loon is in rough shape, Rau­den­bush said, but the things inside it – a $400 pay­load that in­cluded a GPS tracker, GoPro cam­era, weather com­puter and even an egg – is in­tact.

“We’re not sure what the pur­pose of the egg was that’s inside, but I guess it was along for the ride,” he said.

Rau­den­bush’s class gath­ered to watch the video of the launch from Beal’s foot­ball field last Mon­day. They’re ex­cited for the new con­nec­tion they’ve made to the Grade 9 class.

“We feel like we’re now part of their story,” said Rau­den­bush, who is pre­par­ing to ship the bal­loon back to Canada.

“It will be in­ter­est­ing to see how things pan out from here.”

Even with all the high-fly­ing hi­jinx, Tiet is not rul­ing out an­other ex­per­i­ment. “It’s a great story,” he said. “We will learn from our mis­takes, and maybe make some new ones, but we’ll learn from these past ones.” - The London Free Press

TWIT­TER/AARON FLEISH­MAN

Penn­syl­va­nia State Univer­sity re­search as­sis­tant Aaron Fleish­man snapped this photo of H.B. Beal sec­ondary school’s miss­ing weather bal­loon dur­ing a hike on Satur­day in the north­ern Penn­syl­va­nia wilder­ness. The bal­loon, which drifted twice as far as the Beal Grade 9 class had cal­cu­lated, was taken down by a forestry of­fi­cial and handed over to a Grade 4 class Tues­day.

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