On 19 March all Meppen sondes looked promising. The predictions were all near Dortmund, but this does not account for the Meppen manoeuvre parachutes, and drifted from east to west over the course of the day.
The 0500Z probe landed at Krombach, almost exactly where the A4 ends. No area for a public transportation journey, and Keanu stayed ill at home. The 0800Z probe had a superb balloon, which bursted at over 25000 m and let the rig drift into the strong west wind at these altitudes, so that the glide path for the landing shifted significantly to the east. The fully opened parachute did the rest, so the sonde landed somewhere in the area of Freudenberg. The noon probe finally took direct course on Gummersbach, flew in approx. 4500 m height 100 m (ground projection) at my house past and landed about 12 km further in Denklingen. Since ON-1 is still down, I had to record the landing myself. At the moment I’m still experimenting with antennas, but I haven’t found anything better than a folded dipole for my very suboptimal reception place. So I had the last position about 400 m above ground level.
I went into the bus, and just about an hour later I heard the RS41 blearing from the hand-held scanner at the bus stop. Quickly the signal was decoded with the notebook, I went through a forest passing the war memorial into a branch of a residential street, where a few houses stood alongside a gravel path. The sonde should be exactly on this track. But in before the sonde I saw the parachute, which hung a little further behind a farmhouse in a high spruce. The sonde was easy to pull out of the tree with the 6 m pole, and the parachute was shaking when pulling the cord
After some back and forth, and after I had repositioned the line on a stronger branch as a turning point, so that I could pull impulsively, I managed to release the parachute. Of course, I couldn’t catch the string fast enough, so the parachute sailed into the garden of the farmhouse, where of course nobody was home.
Fortunately the neighbours of the residents were there and gave me the okay to briefly go into the garden to recover the remains of the rig. With sonde and chute in my backpack I reached for the next bus to return home.
It looks like Meppen used up its last ABS sondes. So it seems that there the DFS Langen and the ozone sondes from De Bilt are now the only ones in the region to start ABS sondes. It’s a fortunate thing that I still managed to get three of them…