30 June 2021
It was a mixed day. I managed to hunt a few Park Activators in the morning from home before I had to leave to head into town for an appointment. As expected, the appointment cost me over an hour. It also meant that I missed several VK1 Activations.
I headed home and worked a couple of SOTA Activators and some Park Activators before I decided to head out after lunch to attempt to retrieve another radiosonde.
The regular morning radiosonde from Tullamarine Airport landed to the southeast of Drouin, at least an hour away by car. It landed on private property, so one would need to first acquire a ground fix, then find the likely property house before seeking permission to recover the package. I decided against the trip!
The weekly ozone radiosonde was released from Broadmeadows and I watched with interest – given the landing site of the morning radiosonde and the expected longer flight time and higher peak altitude, there was good probability that the ozone package would land closer to home.
I loaded the gear into the car before the balloon had burst and started off towards Thorpdale. I stopped just up the road to check the latest data and the balloon had burst, with a change in the predicted landing area. I started towards Loy Yang, in the latest predicted direction. The gear in the car was tracking well, with the sondehub website giving me the predicted landing area.
As I approached Loy Yang, the prediction was suggesting a landing site north of the Grand Ridge Road, so I headed towards Traralgon South and Callignee. Once at Callignee, I stopped to check the predictions, and it was now suggesting just south of Carrajung. I chose to continue south past Mount Tassie and then east along the Grand Ridge Road, rather than to retrace my route to Loy Yang and then take the Hyland Highway.
I continued towards Carrajung and then south towards Won Wron. I stopped just south of the Recreation Reserve to check both the predictions and the data from RS41 Tracker. I retraced my route a short distance before heading onto Calrossie – Won Wron Road. The track was slightly favouring the western road as the approach route, rather than the Hyland Highway. I stopped a hundred metres short of a farmer starting to herd cattle from the east side of the road to the dairy on the west side.
I watched the parachute and ‘sonde descend, taking a couple of photos. I should have thought about taking some video! I watched it cross over my head and land about 40 metres into a paddock on the west side of the road.
Given that the cows were still crossing the road, I started walking down towards the cows and the two farmers on quad bikes. One of the farmers saw me and I waved. He approached and I said: “Hello”. I pointed out the parachute and requested permission to retrieve it from the paddock. He said that the electric fence was live and suggested that I approach from the driveway a short distance to the south.
I moved the car and parked near the start of the drive, then climbed over the fence, staying away from the electric fence wire. It was then a short walk across the very damp paddock to the parachute and the ‘sonde.
I took a couple more photos and marked the ‘sonde as recovered on the sondehub site. I then switched off the ‘sonde and disconnected the pump power connector before winding up the line to the parachute and returning back to the fence. I managed to cross the fence without any shocks and returned to the car. It was then a simple matter of driving back to Churchill.
Despite the slightly longer than optimal route, it was a pleasant drive on a sunny winter afternoon.