Lost balloon found by hunter in Wisconsin
A hunter from Minocqua, Wis. -- nearly 170 miles from Duluth -- is reuniting Lincoln Park Middle School students with the weather balloon they lost track of a week ago.
A hunter from Minocqua, Wis. - nearly 170 miles from Duluth - is reuniting Lincoln Park Middle School students with the weather balloon they lost track of a week ago.
Lincoln Park Middle School and Marshall School science classes launched weather balloons as part of a class project on Nov. 4. The balloons were equipped with cameras, flight computers and GPS devices, so they could be tracked down once they landed. Students at Marshall tracked their balloon to a location in northern Wisconsin, but the kids at Lincoln Park couldn’t find any readings for their balloon.
The classes received kits full of everything they needed but they were in charge of the assembly. After they realized they were having trouble, the class called Ryan Kern, of Kern and Kompany, who sponsored the launch through a grant from St. Louis County. Paul Sandholm, an eighth-grade earth science teacher, discussed the process with Kern over the phone. It didn’t take long to find the issue. There were several people putting the kit together and somewhere along the way a step was skipped. Amidst some confusion they forgot to turn on the GPS that was attached to the balloon.
“It was a lost balloon and we knew it was gone,” Kern said. “We felt really bad because the kids put a lot of hard work in and now they weren’t going to get any data.”
Sandholm said he and his class were able to find consolation in tracking the balloon that Marshall had released, but the rewarding feeling was gone.
“The kids didn’t know what to think, but it gave me a sickening feeling,” he said.
They thought they would never see the balloon again. But then on Wednesday morning, Sandholm received a call from Steve Wiczek in Minocqua, located approximately 170 miles southeast of Duluth in northern Wisconsin. Wiczek said that he parked his truck to go bow hunting early Tuesday morning just south of Minocqua when he heard a loud beeping noise. He said he ignored it initially.
“I had been in these woods hundreds of times and the beeping was super loud, even on a really windy morning,” Wiczek said. “There were a thousand things going through my mind, but I had no idea what it was.”
Wiczek said he returned to the same spot the next morning and heard the beeping again, but this time he couldn’t resist seeking it out. He followed the sound to a tree that he estimated to be about 40 yards from where he parked. Stuck in the tree was the weather balloon. Wiczek pulled it down, found a phone number for Lincoln Park Middle School, called it and connected with Sandholm to plan to meet and return the balloon sometime this weekend.
“It’s been an adventure,” Sandholm said. He said his students are excited and looking forward to getting the balloon back so they can see the video and data it collected.