NO3 Uccle – Wuppertal-Vohwinkel
Vaisala RS41-SGP + Ozone / N4510093 / 30.11.2019 1200Z
To hunt for such an ozone sonde already appealed to me, and on the Friday before the first advent the forecast was favourable. In the morning I helped with the preparations for the christmas market in my old school, where I am still in charge of the PA equipment, and so it was obvious to ask the boys and girls if they wanted to join me. Jason, Jan and Martin where interested and came with me. We made sure to leave on time to reach the train at 12.23 pm; the sonde should land somewhere around Cologne. While we were still paying for lunch at the McDonalds at the Deutz train station, the balloon burst and it became clear that we were heading for Wuppertal. Jan and Martin didn’t go there anymore, because their student ticket is only valid in the VRS, Wuppertal is already in the VRR. Together with Jason I jumped into the RE; we didn’t want to be too late, I didn’t know what the competition for ozone probes was like in the Cologne area. Jason is a Sheldon, at least as far as railway transport in NRW is concerned; he knows the routes and departure times of the railways from memory. So we didn’t need the app to find out that we went back to Vohwinkel with the S-Bahn and then with a Wuppertal speciality, the diesel-powered Solingen trolleybus to the landing area, a residential area near the autobahn, where the sonde should lie in a garden.
Macbook out, SDR# on, no signal, 45 min. after landing. Knocking Doors it was. The residents on the western side of the garden knew nothing and from her garden nothing could be seen either. So we wen’t to the houses on the other side, not without first having looked from the nearby motorway bridge to rule out the worst. When we rang the bell there, the door was opened. We presented our request. “It was already picked up two young men half an hour ago”. Unfortunately they hadn’t left a note or anything, so they remained anonymous for the time being.
With mixed feelings we went back to Gummersbach. Who were the sonde hunters, were they responsible for other lost probes as well? I made a find report, in which I asked the finder to write me. Some days after the finder, Kevin from Troisdorf, contacted me. He had been on the road with his friend Kai and had been hunting sondes since 2017. As it turned out, he had already taken the DFM in Spich a few weeks earlier, but had not been able to report the find.
In the days around 06.11.2018 numerous manoeuvre sondes started from the military training area Baumholder and as a result of the extraordinary wind some of them landed in the Cologne and Siegen area. Unfortunately I was only able to break loose on 09.11. and started a cold sonde search to get a hold of the DFMs, which are quite rare in our region. Three sondes were on the agenda: First I went to the 1600Z sonde, which was supposed to lie on a field at Spich, then to the 2030Z sonde to a riding school near Leverkusen and finally to the 1030Z sonde in a residential area near Honrath.
NO2 Baumholder – Spich
Graw DFM-09 / 17008986 / 06.11.2018 1600Z
In Spich the sonde should have landed on a field or an adjacent caravan site. After the field had been searched unsuccessfully, the landlord also let me search on the caravan site, but without success. I already doubted that ON-1 had delivered the right position, but nevertheless I set off for the next sonde to Leverkusen.
EDIT: As it turned out, Kevin had also been faster with this sonde, which was almost a home game for him.
#5 Baumholder – Leverkusen-Küppersteg
Graw DFM-09 / 17008997 / 06.11.2018 2030Z
The way to the riding school in Leverkusen led through a forest along a wildlife park, and already passing a paddock I could see the red parachute hanging in a tree. I was incredibly relieved that the position had been right this time and went directly to the office of the riding school to introduce my aims. After I had received green light, the recovery began. The sonde had landed on a paddock and had already been put down behind the fence. The parachute hung in approx. 2.5 m height in a fruit tree, could be freed well however, so that I could salvage the entire set. An accompanying letter was not present, instead a glowstick was indeed. I hurried with the way back and just reached the suburban train back to Cologne.
#6 Baumholder – Honrath
Graw DFM-09 / 17008357 / 06.11.2018 1030Z
The last search on the way home in Honrath was exactly clocked, if I did not want to walk the four kilometers back to the station, I would have to catch the last bus about twenty minutes after my arrival. Three houses came into question. At the middle one nobody opened. A girl opened the door for me in the western neighbour’s house, but she knew nothing at all. Finally I had success at the eastern neighbour and was able to take my second DFM. However, the parachute had landed in the neighbour’s garden who had not been home. I reached the bus and made my way home.