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 Peter Ewing, Balloon Team Member, which was published in the May-June 1997 issue of the Southeastern Space Supporter, newsletter of HAL5.

A Truly Enjoyable Experience

I left Huntsville Thursday evening around 7:00 with Ronnie Lajoie, and the two of us met up with Greg Allison at the Shoney’s in Scottsboro.  I suppose our goal was to get as much of the road behind us as we could; by 3:00 a.m. we had only reached Atlanta.  But the stops for dinner, dessert, coffee, and “Georgia ice cream” had made this leg of the trip enjoyable.

After a “refreshing” three hours of sleep, our goal was to reach the coast by early afternoon to meet other Project HALO members we knew were ahead of us.  Sure enough, Gene and Gladys Young were waiting at the launch site with their typical gung-ho attitude.  Within minutes Tim Pickens and Steve Mustaikis also met us, bringing news that lodging could be had on Cary Bruton’s forty foot yacht at no charge.

Steve Unger, Editor of the Topsail Voice, and Dusty Powers, a reporter for ABC News, also showed up Friday, confirming that the press was interested in everything we were about to attempt.  Mr. Unger allowed us use of his lawnmower, to smooth the area from which the balloon would be launched, and Mr. Powers donated some wooden stakes that would help lay the outline for a public viewing area.

Saturday saw everyone going full throttle in preparation for Sunday’s launch.  Everyone took a turn at the lawnmower including Larry Scarborough’s son Jesse.  George Andrews, an air traffic controller at the Wilmington tower, lent us two rakes to further smooth the area under the balloon, and even did most of the raking himself.  At nightfall a disturbing stutter in one of our generators prompted him to lend us a generator as well!

With virtually no sleep Saturday night, I completed taping off the public viewing area Sunday morning and joined the other members of my balloon team until it was time for liftoff.  Use of Mr. Andrews’ Food Lion charge card got us the extra helium we needed, but Greg still wasn’t able to pull the pin on the Kjome launcher, so Tim stepped in.  The balloon was set free and, at least in my opinion, everything went beautifully after that.

Although we didn’t reach space, I would like to thank all Project HALO team members and the generous people of Hampstead, for a truly enjoyable experience.  Ad Astra!

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