|Bradley/Cuneo Abandon Pacific Attempt|
|Written by Glen Moyer|
|Monday, 18 February 2008 16:06|
Celestial Eagle pilots Troy Bradley and Peter Cuneo, with the advice of their meteorologists and the flight team, have decided to abandon their attempt to make a gas balloon crossing of the Pacific Ocean this year. The pilots and team will put their equipment into storage in Japan with the intent of attempting the flight during the 2008-09 winter season.
Team meteorologists Lou Billones and Don Day have been carefully monitoring the weather conditions and have concluded that the weather will not improve enough in the next two weeks to allow for a safe crossing this season.These conditions included stringent wind conditions required for a launch from Saga, Japan, a fast, weather free follow-on ocean crossing of about 11,000 km, and a storm free landing in North America after 5 - 10 days aloft.
Billones further describes: "Our concern was heightened because this winter is considered a "La Nina" Season (colder water temperatures in the Tropical Central and Eastern Pacific Ocean) with wind patterns differing form the normal patterns. The difference typified by a persistent high-pressure area (blocking high) south of Alaska forcing the potential balloon tracks into the Gulf of Alaska, or with major storms flowing under a weakened blocking high into the Pacific Northwest."
"Our historical analysis of past La Nina Seasons indicated a possibility of four opportunities for a crossing. But, we found all potential launches from Saga and the crossing of the Western Pacific, while successful, would not have been able to work around the blocking high or Pacific Northwest storms resulting in flight failure."
Day adds, "The winter season over the Pacific began with weak to moderate La Nina conditions and will end the season in moderate to strong La Nina conditions. The increasing intensity of La Nina, especially in late January and into February has resulted in very intense Pacific storms and unusually strong winter storms in eastern Asia."
The Celestial Eagle team and pilots Bradley and Cuneo hope to set a new absolute distance record for straight gas balloons (those using a lighter-than-air gas such as helium for lift without the aid of other technologies such as hot air). Achieving the distance record would require a flight of approximately 5,300 miles or 8,500 km. The current record was set by the Double Eagle V crew during a 1981 trans-Pacific crossing.
The team thanks the people of Japan, and especially the people of Saga, for their hospitality and support during the two months the Celestial Eagle team awaited launch. The team looks forward to returning to Saga in the hopes of completing a successful flight next year.
All of the members of the Celestial Eagle team are still hoping for the safe recovery of Japanese balloonist Michio Kanda, who was reported missing during a trans-Pacific attempt in a hot air balloon earlier this year. Their thoughts and prayers are with Michio Kanda's family and friends.
|Last Updated on Saturday, 06 June 2009 16:55|