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Weather Balloon Collision

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Weather Balloon Collision

Old 25th May 2007, 10:03
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Weather Balloon Collision

Article in the Times today....something about a Thomson aircraft colliding with a weather balloon yesterday (?) and diverting to Barcelona?

Any facts known?

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/new...cle1837998.ece
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Old 25th May 2007, 10:23
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Usual ignorant reporter speak! "Aircraft plunges thousands of feet" etc. Why do editors allow publishing statements like that?
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Old 25th May 2007, 11:01
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They allow it because it sells newspapers
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Old 25th May 2007, 11:42
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ahh ... shoddy journalism. It's been a while since they've had anything aviation-we're-all'-going-to-die related to get their teeth into.


The pilot banked the aircraft over the Mediterranean


... presumably thereby heroically missing the School (of fish).


"When we landed we were chased up the runway by ambulances and fire engines. There was a round of applause and those who were praying stopped, said passenger Graham Percy, 61


... A friend of mine started singing 'Always Look on the Bright Side of Life' during an emergency landing; seems a much better idea than praying!
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Old 25th May 2007, 15:18
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That's gonna need to be a helluva lot of cable...
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Old 25th May 2007, 16:57
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wx balloons on static lines
Eh? Do they really exist?
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Old 25th May 2007, 17:59
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Wx balloons are still used. By the time they get up to the the cruising FLs they're bleeding big (can't recall how big but I remember being very surprised!) but the payload is very small and doesn't weight much. Nonetheless, at cruising speeds I suspect that it could still make quite a dent.

I heard that a risk assessment on the things was done a while back and I believe that the probability of aircraft meeting balloon at high levels was very small - hence it was considered tolerable.
 
Old 25th May 2007, 18:35
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I very nearly hit one of these over the Alps about 5 years ago at about 25000ft. It came close enough for us both to pretty much duck as we went underneath it. Quite a big balloon (10-15ft high I should think) with a box (looked like cardboard) slung underneath which I assume had the instruments in it. We told ATC and filed a report when we got home but got no further info on it. It would have made quite a bang if we had hit I think.
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Old 25th May 2007, 18:44
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Yes, there are still tethered balloons/blimps. A Cessna hit the cable of one and crashed a few weeks ago in Florida.
NTSB: Eustis pilot was in restricted air space before clipping blimp cable, crashing
Christine Dellert
Sentinel Staff Writer
May 16, 2007, 4:51 PM EDT
MIAMI -- Air traffic controllers tried to warn a Eustis pilot flying through the Keys last month that he was in restricted airspace before his plane crashed into a cable tethering a military blimp, killing the pilot and two others on board, according to a preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board.
Minutes -- or seconds -- after the warning, Mark Chase, 56, flew his Cessna 182Q into a steel cable tethering the huge blimp in the area of Cudjoe Key.
Chase, 56, died in the April 20, nighttime crash along with his wife, Margaret, 53, and her cousin, Denise Darcey, 47, of Ashburn, Va. The three were on their way back to Leesburg International Airport following a day trip in Key West.
Relatives say a memorial service for all three will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Religious Society of Friends meeting house, 316 E. Marks St. in Orlando.
Authorities won't yet release the communications between Chase's single-engine plane and FAA traffic controllers in Miami. But the NTSB says witnesses reported the left wing "flying off" when the airplane struck the military blimp's cable at an altitude of about 4,000 feet. Rescuers found the destroyed craft near Cudjoe Key in about three or four feet of water, according to the report.
A camera mounted near the blimp recorded Chase's plane entering the restricted airspace around the blimp. The dirigible is part of an Air Force radar system used in the Keys to track drug traffickers.
"The video record showed the airplane's left wing striking the tether, and the airplane entering a spin, and descending seemingly uncontrolled, departing the camera's field of view," the report concludes.
The crash will likely remain under investigation for several more months.
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Old 25th May 2007, 18:57
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said passenger Graham Percy, 61
Never, ever, trust anyone with two given names.



can't recall how big but I remember being very surprised!

I bet you weren't half as surprised as I was when I turned finals at Ostend and was confronted with a Batman emblem the size of a house...just feet from my windshield. I wrestled with the controls of course, and saved the day. (They were towing a banner promoting the first filum)

It's funny the things you find in the air.
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Old 25th May 2007, 19:21
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Re the question a few posts up about
"weather balloons on static lines"
I know there are "weather balloons" (radiosondes?), and I know there are tethered balloons, because I once jumped out of one, but.............

Is there such a thing as a tethered weather balloon, or one "on a static line"?

It sounds unlikely to me.
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Old 25th May 2007, 19:39
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Is there such a thing as a tethered weather balloon, or one "on a static line"?
Yup, TAOS for short...
http://www.ucar.edu/communications/n...2000/vtmx.html
... but the line isn't very long (~3000' IIRC).
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Old 25th May 2007, 19:45
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Thanks ...very interesting article. We live and learn.
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Old 25th May 2007, 20:03
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Weather balloons

First of all, are there any military test ranges in the area ?

I was a tech' photographer for BAe on Harrier trials, and since my job was done when the on-board cameras were fitted & loaded ( a place in SW Scotland ) I and a chum were tasked with the weather balloon.

They are sent up just before each trial flight, to help co-ordinate data on velocity etc.

The sonde in this case was about 6 x 2" in a cardboard box, packed with polystyrene.

The radar reflector below it, I kid you not, was a fold-out Christmas decoration !

As far as I remember the balloons were about 6' diameter at ground level, made of thick red rubber ( looked like a super large heavy duty condom - my chum took delight in flopping one on the bar table & raising his eyebrows at the local girls ) - they presumably expanded a lot on the way up.

I don't think the ones I dealt with would endanger a windscreen, but an engine might not like it.
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Old 25th May 2007, 20:54
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Surely this one was not of the threaded variety but one of the standard sounding balloons which are widely around worldwide. I never heard of a collision before but I do recall vividly having one of the payloads being retreived from a runway on a large airport after it had come down on it's parachute.

To give you an idea about the sounding balloons, have a look at this link.

http://weather.uwyo.edu/upperair/sounding.html

Just change USA for Europe or whereever and you see the stations from which these things are launched from 2 to 8 times a day. They still do have a very valid function these days as they produce the Emmagramme soundings we all heard about in met during pilots school....

BTW, this site is one of the best sources for these soundings. Just change the type of plot to Skew-T and click on a station....

Best reagrds
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Old 26th May 2007, 08:28
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Is there such a thing as a tethered weather balloon, or one "on a static line"?
D206 just south of Bedford (UK), if it still exists, has a "barrage" balloon used by the met office for research purposes, flown on a cable up to 6000 ft, so technically you could say it's a tethered weather balloon.
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Old 26th May 2007, 10:09
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As replied to in a previous post (Mysterious Incident at LFPR Faro) I had a very near miss with with a weather balloon over at FL290 over Manchester in 1986. I filed an Airmiss report and the launching of the balloon was traced. It looked pretty big to me and in the fleating second I saw it (no time for avioding action) it seemed to have lots of things hanging from it and am sure it would have caused damage to our shiny BCal 1-11. Hanging things didn't look like aliens (as we know them)
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Old 26th May 2007, 10:29
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There was a round of applause and those who were praying stopped
You'd think they'd have, at least, said "Thanks."


Like so many others, years ago we had a close encounter with one of these.
Just time to say "WTF's that?" and we were past it.
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Old 26th May 2007, 11:44
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It is indeed still permanently active up to 6000' GG. I quite often see balloons out of there, usually well above me as I come in to Cranfield.

The radisonde baloons start off at ground level looking like they are only half inflated. As they climb they expand as the pressure drops, until they burst and the sonde returns to earth by parachute.
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Old 26th May 2007, 14:55
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Operating BI098 LHR-DXB about one month ago, FL330 over Frankfurt. F/O nearly jumped out of his seat as a met balloon passed just off our right wingtip. I was saved, by page 3, "car in ditch"story,the Borneo Beano, from witnessing anything!
ATC seemed fairly disinterested.
I suppose it is part and parcel of the risky nature of our job but it would be an unfair way to go!
Many years back. when real men wore white hats, it was me receiving the shock, from the righthand seat, B757,climbing through FL290 over south coast of UK as we passed through a cloud of party balloons!
Makes you blink!
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