I had been waiting for my first hat-trick for quite some time, but until now there had only been two consecutive sondes. That changed when I was awakened on Wednesday morning by manoeuvre sonde from Baumholder who were just approaching my QTH. I quickly got out of bed and took the next train to Marienheide, where the first 0630Z sonde had just landed in the forest near Listringhausen. While I was waiting for the bus there, the next sonde already landed behind Marienheide.
#21 Baumholder – Listringhausen
Graw DFM-09 / 17007958 / 05.06.2019 0630Z
After the position of the first sonde had been decoded at the bus stop, I went 2 km into the forest in the best weather, only to find out that the chute was hanging on the edge of the forest at a height of about 7.5 m, and the sonde was not visible. So the parachute was quickly caught and pulled down, and lo and behold – the robust DFM could be pulled over the treetops, and eventually abseiled.
#22 Baumholder – Marienheide
Graw DFM-09 / 17050161 / 05.06.2019 0800Z
Further on to the second sonde, this time by bus to the Bruchertalsperre, there across the dam wall and this time about 3 km into the forest, beforehand the position was decoded. This time the parachute was hanging on a high spruce, which bordered on a spruce conservation, and I had to climb along the slope to the landing site. Again the parachute was just within reach of my pole, again the sonde could be abseiled. But this time I had to extend it’s string with the string of the previous one. New tool in the sonde backpack: DFM string.
#23 Baumholder – Nümbrecht
Graw DFM-09 / 17050614 / 05.06.2019 0930Z
In the meantime the following sonde had gone down faster and had only made it to Nümbrecht. Short investigation on the way back revealed that the landing site could be reached by foot from the central “bus station” aka road with many branches and bus shelters, Homburg-Bröl in the southern county past Wiehl. Therefore quickly into the TH in Gummersbach to empty the now full backpack in my lab and refill my water bottle. The new “express bus” 302 took me there. The sonde had already stopped transmitting and was not visible in the clearing where the forecast saw it. I stomped a few steps into the high undergrowth, which was full of ferns, and saw the sonde as ready to be picked up on the ground. The hat trick was complete. So quickly back to the bus stop, where I could also stop three ticks from getting too comfortable on my calves… and another tool for the sonde backpack: tick card.
NP4 Idar-Oberstein – Boppard
Vaisala RS41-SGP / P2050587 / 03.06.2019 1200Z
When the way home was waiting for us on Monday, the forecast for the midday probe from Idar gave us reason to take a look over Koblenz, especially as we wanted to see the stream of the WWDC keynote at flynamic in Bonn in the evening.
While the sonde was on its way, the forecast predicted a landing south of Koblenz, we stationed at Vapiano and then took a short walk to the Deutsches Eck. Meanwhile the sonde fell very fast and didn’t even make it across the Rhine and landed near the A61 at Boppard.
The last position was reached quickly, but the signal of the sonde could hardly be heard, let alone decoded. An apparently nearby BOS-Funk station also littered the spectrum with TETRA, which didn’t make things any easier. Only with a mobile Yagi increased to six directors it was possible to achieve anything. When the sonde was found, it was clear why: the antenna had buried itself in the soft forest soil and the sonde body was on top of it. The small red parachute and the big balloon remains hung in a nearby tree out of reach of the pole and could not be pulled down either.
#20 Stuttgart – Bietigheim-Bissingen
Vaisala RS41-SGP / P3620018 / 02.06.2019 1200Z
Flynamic, nikcani and myself drove to the GPN19 in Karlsruhe over Ascension Day holidays. Of course the sonde hunting equipment was aloon board, one doesn’t know what might happens. And indeed, the Sunday midday sonde from Stuttgart landed at a reasonable distance southeast of Bietigheim-Bissingen, on a paddock behind a farm.
I was afraid that the on-time recovery of the sonde would be harder in the more fought-over Baden-Württemberg area than at my regular QTH, and therefore also registered the planned recovery at radiosondy. Unfortunately we didn’t met anybody spontaneously at the sonde. When we arrived about 90 minutes after landing, the sonde was active and was quite easy to salvage.
The sonde was on a path behind a farm, the big balloon remainings and the unopened parachute were situated behind an electric fence on a paddock, but could be pulled over.