Two Get Very High Part One

So there we have been, 30,000’ the wrong way up, not anything at the clock but the maker’s name. All good flying memories ought to begin with a line like that. For Lev David and I, it changed into kind of authentic temp mail.

Topping out at 30,334’, briefly we have been the best people stood outside anywhere. We shook arms and the feeling changed into humbling and then we had to go back to a urgent need. Relighting the pilot lighting fixtures, they’d gone out 834 ft beforehand. I knew that the possibilities of getting them lit before we had dropped under 25,000’ have been slim – the balloon manufacturing unit in England had told me so!

The tale started out as such a lot of do in a Beer tent. Splashy Fen 2004 Underberg Kwa Zulu Natal. I had met Lev David, manufacturer and presenter of East Coast Radio’s breakfast display a month or two earlier. He stood on top of one of my balloons at the ABSA Stadium Durban. I become very impressed together with his fearless manner.

Live at the show they’d spoken through sat cellphone to a climber on top of Kilimanjaro, Lev asked if the balloon ought to get higher and I stated of route. Reaching the peak of Everest at 29,000’ and a piece regarded the manner ahead. With my beer head on, I had stated the balloon ought to do it without actually thinking about it. What would it not depend we each might have forgotten the communique by using the morning.

The conversation was forgotten but simplest for multiple weeks.

When revisited in the cold mild of day, the hassle of getting the balloon to top did now not seem insurmountable. A brief check of the manufacturers slide rule load calculator proved that folks ought to without problems get up to fifteen,000’ with multiple hundred spare pounds of carry in hand. Sitting down with the formulas could be required for an accurate concept of what we could carry higher. Time to invite grown usafor assist.

I actually have a chum in Australia, Steve Griffin who makes a habit of taking small balloons to extraordinary heights. He holds several world facts for one-guy balloons and has even long past to the Arctic so as to get into green low temperatures. An e-mail to Steve furnished an excel spreadsheet which I needed to regulate barely as he can’t get a whole lot above 18,000’ in a hopper. It had the maths looked after though. I ran the numbers and labored out that we’d have at the least 40Kg of spare lift at 30k.

Working the old saying, measure twice reduce once, I checked with some other grown up, Simon Forse, the technical guy at Lindstrand balloons in England. He despatched this jaunty equation, primarily based on a 180 at an inner temp of 100C

L = p x V

Therefore L = V x p0

Im = 3.28084ft

Where for 30Kft = 9143m or 9500m

P0 = zero.43890 kgIm3

T0 = 226.Four 0K

V = 5100m3

T1 = a hundred 0C or 373 0K


L = 5100 x 0.43890

L = 5100 x 0.43890 x 0.39303

L max = 879kg

OK so we ought to genuinely elevate the two of us.

Getting into the stride of things it become time to deal with the environment wherein we might be working. The Internet, cutting-edge source of answers to everything quick painted a photograph. We probably confronted temperatures of -60C in a hundred and ten knot winds typically from the North West. I knew it turned into going to be bloodless but –60! The wind speed mattered no longer, aside from choice of launch website. As long because it became gradual for the touchdown.

Every 18,000’ that you climb halves the properties of the atmosphere at sea level. We might be operating near ¼ of sea degree density. Less than half the available air manifestly way a great deal much less oxygen for

1. Us

2. The pilot lights.

All pilots have heard of hypoxia, all over again the net offers solutions without oxygen you’ll final…
Times of Useful Consciousness

(Effective overall performance time)

Altitude Conscious time







50,000+ 5 – 12 minutes

2 – three minutes

45 – 75 seconds

30 – 60 seconds

10 – 30 seconds

12 – 15 seconds

12 or less seconds

Important also to recognise that this is the time it’s going to take you to come to be subconscious, at 30k dying will follow after 2 mins.

Obviously we might should get the right oxygen gadget. I will no longer pass in to incredible detail but the continuous flow structures often used in light plane for supplementary oxygen aren’t appropriate for flight above 20,000’. A pulse respiration device and mask is required for higher altitudes and the quantity of oxygen had to be pumped at you increases dramatically.

Now when I started searching the best human beings that I may want to locate that had that kind of gear had been the army. The structures are used for excessive altitude parachute jumps through the Special Forces. Contact was made with the air pressure and at the same time SA flyer magazine, I figured they could properly recognise a person who ought to assist.

That turned into us, now for the pilot lighting fixtures. In the beyond people have rigged up substances of oxygen for the pilot lighting fixtures however that is now taken into consideration as an alternative dodgy. One difficult touchdown and you have broken oxygen bottle feeding possibly a tank hearth. As you climb better the burner flame starts offevolved to detach from the burner, moving higher. This is the factor at which the ideal mix of oxygen to support the flame is gift. Eventually the flame will detach and disappear up into the envelope all by means of itself. To stop that taking place you want to lean the gas mixture. There are two approaches, either moderates the waft the use of the tank valve or in shape decreased jets. This is the option we took. Once above 25,000’ you leave the modified burner walking continuously. A leaned burner way less electricity to be had. This will convey us up towards a fundamental mistake made in high flight planning.

At sea degree you could get about 220 kg in keeping with hour of gasoline thru the burners, burning flat out. Take those burners to 30k and the maximum you can get thru is 20 kg even as sustaining a flame. If you try to get more via it will genuinely blow out the flame too much fuel to air. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to comprehend that you’ll no longer be capable of generate plenty of warmth.

Load charts assume an internal temperature of 100C it is not going in spite of the burners working flat out that you will generate that temperature. An inner temp of 80C is a long way extra affordable.

All further load calculations for the flight were made assuming an internal temp of 80C. This intended losing weight, from the equipment and from ourselves.

Going to a health club is a fairly alien concept for me however I knew weight needed to pass and health needed to enhance for altitude conditioning.

An unwelcome side impact of getting the system mild for excessive altitude is the effect it has when you return to low stage. If you do a definitely right task of having the burden off and the internal temperature drops into the 40C range then you definately are in danger of going sun. The sun will hold you flying and make it devilishly difficult to land; greater in particular prevent on a windy day. That’s why when looking on the weather an overcast day might be an amazing concept.

Now we had an concept of what to anticipate, what type of oxygen gadget we wished and what we needed to do to the package. How lengthy would it take? Another thumb suck approximation became made. Fuel for two hours have to be enough.

Lev could broadcast live to the display and that offered a set of conversation troubles however radio being radio and no longer TV supposed locating other ways to have interaction the listeners.

Live tracking of the balloon on the East Coast internet site become the method chosen. Time to discover people that knew how to do it. By risk I came throughout Stuart Baynes from Joburg. He proved to be a awesome supply of expertise and eventually put us in touch with H Communications. They very kindly presented to construct and discover sponsors for the whole monitoring gig.

It could be accessible for the crew with a purpose to see where we were as properly. If there was one hundred ten knots of wind at altitude we would be a long way away short. In order to do that we’d need laptops. These were provided by way of HP one within the balloon and two on the floor.

The thought of excessive winds at altitude and a observe the charts and suitable touchdown regions pulled us towards selecting Estcourt airfield as a release site. Another attention turned into that if we needed to standby for climate for any quantity of time we ought to go away the equipment rigged in a hanger and pull it out as required.

Next we had to make certain we might be allowed to climb to 30k in that region. Special use of airspace became cleared with CAMU for the first week of May that’s while traditionally frost arrives on this wood of the neck. I must say that Tanya at CAMU turned into super.

Lev sorted out apparel utilized by climbers on Everest, Foshini’s new out of doors apparel shops, Due South kindly let us stroll right into a flagship keep and choose what we wanted.

With bits coming collectively and know-how being amassed we ordered the high altitude burner jets and once they arrived scheduled a practice flight. This turned into a month in advance at the start of April. The concept at the back of that being we might have plenty of time to restore matters or alternate stuff.

The tracking gadget required a relay station connected to an usually on internet connection. It could also assist if that become at a high spot. Andrew on the Antbear B&B inside the hills above Estcourt helped with that. Rather annoyingly all the equipment worked at domestic and as soon because it changed into moved fell over. That intended that for the practice the simplest recording we’d have could be from the following vehicle.

Unfortunately the climate didn’t play ball. The Saturday morning changed into forecast windy with rain. We took a choice no longer to power all of the way as much as Estcourt and as an alternative try to get as plenty achieved from home as feasible.

We had hoped to fly four people to 20k but with the forecast high velocity winds at low degree I become no longer satisfied carrying oxygen device kindly leant through Peter How of Composite Technologies I did now not want to harm it.

It was all unravelling definitely. Still we went beforehand with Charmaine from SA Flyer on board. As soon as we took off Henry knowledgeable us the monitoring turned into now not running. Lesson primary, we had put the tracking container in a extraordinary compartment to Lev. He had to climb across and open it up. Lesson variety , Henry had not became it on!

Up we went to a completely common 12,000’. Lev started out being used to driving the software program for the 1:50000 maps that have been on our computer. All in all it changed into a reasonably high-quality flight landing mockingly on the opposite aspect of the highway from Estcourt airfield.

It won’t were a thundering success but it did get all the gamers collectively on the equal time and introduce people who had not visible balloons before to what occurs. It additionally gave what had now end up a team, a more focussed and real goal.

Next came excessive altitude education with the air force at Waterkloof there we had been taken with out oxygen in the hyperbaric chamber to twenty,000’ after which left to sit a while and come to be hypoxic. To be honest the chamber became the factor that I became most fearful of and the motive that I were dragging myself to the fitness center every morning for two months. I had lost little or no weight, best 6kg however became feeling a whole lot fitter. On average I turned into doing 22km an afternoon on the machines.

Our blood oxygen saturation stages had been measured and on the begin Lev had a great score of 100 I lagged behind at 96 percentage. Lev being handiest 24 and plenty more healthy and leaner than me had now not been as diligent along with his training. I become quite miffed. Having sat some time our oxygen ranges were checked again and Lev had dropped to sixty seven% and I was happily a whole eleven% better off at 78%. We can handiest positioned it right down to me residing up right here at 4000 ordinary toes and education tougher. Reviewing the video of our journey inside the chamber you may in reality see us joking extra and I vividly don’t forget thinking how heavy the digicam turned into becoming. On the way down at 4000 fpm my ears without a doubt began hurting after best two mins I changed into complaining. The Sgt Major controlling activities out of doors slowly took us returned up to 18k once more after which we started out down once more at a extra leisurely price. On examination by the doc afterwards my ear wax changed into said to have moved and blocked my left ear. Nice very first-rate.

The subsequent day each Lev and I felt exhausted.

Many promises had been made with the aid of many human beings about the oxygen equipment. This become what the flight hinged on. We had been permit down with the aid of more than one groups and in the end I resorted to coming across who made the equipment used right here through the navy. I determined the organisation within the UK and they agreed to ship me more than one gadgets. The most effective snag became that they are considered a weapon and we’d should observe for permission to import weapons! All too tough with much less than a month to move a actual ache.

Another go back to the net and now I became looking likely in which I ought to were inside the first region, the mountaineering international. I quickly discovered gadget from Mountain High and set up that it become precise for heights of up to 31,000’. As success could have it that they had an agent in South Africa. By risk he shared a mixture of Lev and my surnames, David Mortimer. That omen regarded appropriate and David let the challenge live another time. Not simplest does David import the equipment he also fly’s it in his gliders and is the president of the Soaring Society. He would act as our reputable observer.

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