703 Illinois Ave., Mendota, IL 61342 • Ph: 815-539-9396 • Fax: Fax: 815-539-7862
Current E-Edition

Top Stories Sports Obituaries Social Local Births Home 

"Edge of Space" balloon launched in Mendota

Posted: Tuesday, Jan 15th, 2013

John Flaig holds up the remains of his weather balloon in Rensselaer, Ind. on Dec. 30. Flaig launched the near space balloon that morning in Mendota. (Photos contributed)

MENDOTA - Before most Mendotans had ventured outside on the morning of Dec. 30, there was some unusual activity taking place over at Lake Mendota Park. Well before dawn, John Flaig and his younger brother, Paul, had checked out of a local motel and were on the soccer fields preparing to launch a "near space" weather balloon. Given the 13-degree temperature and lack of daylight, it would not be easy.

This was to be the second launch for Flaig, who lives in Milwaukee, Wis. Although Mendota is known around here as "The World's Greatest Little City," Flaig's reason for choosing Mendota for the launch was strictly science. Prediction tools showed that by launching here, the balloon would (hopefully) land in northeastern Indiana. "I wanted the balloon to skirt Chicago from the south in order to get images of the city and lake," he explained.

Another important factor would be his ability to reach the balloon landing site quickly by car. "Mendota is right off I-39, which leads to I-80 east," he said. "Plus it had a big, secluded public park and there is no airport."

Flaig noted that the FAA has rules regarding where this type of balloon may be launched and Mendota was considered safe. "Peru, for example, could fall under that [unacceptable] category because of the regional airport," he said. "The other major rule concerns the weight and density of the payload but it was just a styrofoam cooler and the whole thing weighed only a few pounds."

Once the weather balloon was launched a little after 6 a.m., the brothers quickly got back in their car and headed toward I-39. Using an iPad, they were able to track the balloon's position on AccuTracking and Spot GPS websites. The projected landing was to be near Rensselaer, Ind.

For the complete article see the 01-16-2013 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 01-16-2013 paper.

Select Page:



Shoppe Hide


Copyright 2017 News Media Corporation

News    Classifieds    Shoppe    Search    ContactUs    TalkBack    Subscribe    Information    E-Edition    Business Portal