After yesterday’s Essen midday sonde did not have enough endurance and had landed on the edge of the Dhünntal reservoir, the midnight sonde made an exemplary flight and landed 6.3 km from my QTH, south of Bergneustadt. From Keanu it were only 2-3 km. After I had the last coordinates, which indicated the sonde just behind a high voltage line, I discussed the operation with Keanu: I would take the bus to Bergneustadt in the morning, and then we would go to the sonde together, and on the way to work he would drop me off again at home. ( I count this sonde as a public transport sonde, because almost no distance was covered by car because of the sonde).
At the landing site, which was on a mountain (which explains the good reception, I still had some signal -not enough to decode but nevertheless- after landing), we saw the parachute lying on a field from far away. The sonde had missed the power line only by meters, I had secretly hoped for a visit from the local grid operator, Westnetz. But my first sonde in a high-voltage line will probably wait a little longer, we don’t have many lines in our area.
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…
As both Keanu and Jason were not yet involved in any (successful) ozone probe hunt, there was a need to change this. Today the opportunity was given, as Uccle should land somewhere around Cologne. Keanu picked me up at 13:30, and after we had collected Jason, we went to Cologne. Unfortunately the balloon burst already with approx. 31,500 m height, so that the landing shifted to northeast. But since the parachute worked well, everything pointed to a landing between Bedburg (Erft) and Niederaussem.
Unfortunately ON-1 was and is down since this morning, so that no more automatic predictions could be made during the landing approach. In addition, the probe made a turn to the south during the final approach, which made the guidance more difficult. The SDR with loose contact, the RS-41 was more faint than expected (I’m used to better results with the 433 MHz magnetic base antenna) and the insensitive decoding behavior of the RS41 tracker did the rest. Nevertheless, we managed to catch a glimpse of the parachute during the landing approach, the first sonde I saw in the air before landing (Yeah!)
The landing place could not have been more favorable. It was a gas station, the probe stood, like beside it as it belonged there, the parachute and balloon remainings were lying on the roof. The parking lot was right in front of it. No drive-in in the classic sense, but close to it.
On the way back we stopped at P2950443 from 26.02.19 in Essen, which had landed very close on a nursery ground. Unfortunately every trace of her was missing after six days.
At the end the descent speed was below 4 m/s, although the parachute did not open quite perfectly. Although the sonde has an older OIF board from 2016, this seems to be only the second use, at least in this case. The crossed out date I reckon to be 23.01.19, this seemed to be a faulty start, because there was a re-start on 24.01.. For an entry as Found this is too little for me. Up to now I did not know the Safety from normal probe cord and cardboard, which was knotted to the cord. Oh, what have I missed this unique Uccle smell made of balloon residue, water battery and hemp cord. Talking about batteries: the water battery has the date of manufacture 20.01.15, so it is a newer batch than my last one and the heating battery is an Ultralife this time, like the motor batteries from De Bilt.