Project HALO Status Report

Sky Launch 1, Attempt 3 -- Success in Hampstead

Held on Sunday, May 11, 1997 in Hampstead, North Carolina

The following text was taken, with permission, from an article by John McCallum, recovery boat captain, which was published in the May-June 1997 issue of the Southeastern Space Supporter, newsletter of HAL5.

Adventures at Sea

Congratulations on the successful launch.  I was the captain of the recovery boat Grasshopper out of Morehead City, NC.  I was contacted by Debbie Odom on Friday and told that a boat was needed to recover the rocket.  She said that the anticipated landing site was about 20 nautical miles south of Morehead City.  She gave me coordinates 34:18:26 and 76:03:19 for the site.  When I plotted the position, it was 43 nautical miles east of Morehead on a bearing of 138 deg.  We left the dock at 0545 and stopped several times on the way out for Bob Brandenhof (radio operator) to check in with the launch site for position updates.

About 20 miles out, Bob lost contact with the repeater station and so we lost contact with the shore crew.  I began to wonder if we were going to the wrong place.  I was assured that the coordinates were good so we continued on.

So Where’s the Rocket?!

We arrived on site at about 0915 and began to circle and look for the parachute.  I was too far offshore to reach any shore station with my VHF so I contacted a local charter boat, “Harriet L” captained by Terrell Gould, who used his SSB to call his father Leroy Gould on his boat “Mattie G” back at the Morehead City.  Captain Leroy Gould made several calls to Bill Brown’s cellphone only to find it not in service. He called Bob Brandenhof’s wife Doris who got the calculated landing site but was unable to get back in touch with Captain Leroy because of a telephone number mix-up.

I had Captain Leroy call the Comfort Inn in Wilmington and ask for anyone in the Rocket Group.  He called back with the coordinates 34:16:55.1 and 77:47:37.9.  According to my GPS that position was 60 nautical miles from Morehead City at a bearing of 250 deg.  That position was well out of my range so we headed back in, arriving back at the dock at about 1500.

Gone But Not Forgotten

I was disappointed about not being able to recover the rocket and was wondering if the anticipated landing site was correct or if the difference was due to the unscheduled balloon burst which may have sent the rocket of on a different course than planned because of the gondola falling unsupported by the balloon.  [Editor’s note: the difference was due to a much stronger jet stream than planned.]  I was glad to help in the effort and will be available for any future efforts.

[an error occurred while processing this directive]