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Mon, Jan 14, 2013

'Yeager' Found After Six Months Missing

Journalist Had Launched The Camera Package On A Weather Balloon

When a dozen international journalists visited CNN in June, one of the cable network's reporters thought it would be an interesting story for them to get photographs and other recordings from the edge of space ... a prospect that has become easier with the advent of small digital cameras and GPS tracking devices.

Chris Ericson writes in a CNN blog that he assembled about $1,000 worth of equipment for a flight beneath a weather balloon, which was launched after having gotten the proper permission from the FAA and other authorities, from the National Weather Service station at Peachtree City, GA. While the initial ascent went as planned, the balloon and it payload, which had been nicknamed "Yeager," apparently were caught in some strong upper-level winds and broke apart, rendering the parachute recovery system pretty much useless. The payload fell from about FL650, landing somewhere in central Georgia ... and an extensive search failed to turn up the missing gear.

Fast forward to December. The phone that was included in the package was found by a man named Justin Garrett in his back yard. When he turned it on, it sent a message to its owner that it had been found about 35 miles south of Atlanta. Using that as a starting point, and after realizing that they had not put proper coordinates into Google Earth on their initial search in June, team members Mark Sudduth and Kery Mallory searched again, and eventually found the cameras, and the video, intact, on December 15. The cameras even still worked.

The footage and the story were forwarded on to the international journalists, who had long since gone home, and who likely got a better story than they had hoped for in the first place.

(Similar balloon pictured in file photo)

FMI: CNN Video

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