Cockeyed Airmail by Party Balloon

guest episode by Robert Nech

Have you ever wondered what to do with those leftover party balloons besides suck the helium and talk funny?  Send them up with a note and give a shameless plug to Cockeyed.com!

   Waayyy back in the old days of 1982 I lived in Moore, Oklahoma while in the 5th grade and attended Applecreek Elementary School.  This year was the 75th anniversary for Oklahoma's statehood.  The way we celebrated it was by our whole school releasing balloons into the sky.  Our class attached 3x5 cards with our names and addresses on them.

One balloon out of all of the balloons in our class traveled over 800 miles to Florida in just a few days.  I wish it had been my balloon!  The person who found the balloon had an article written in their local Florida town paper which our class got to see a copy of.  Is it possible I could send a balloon just as far with 36 tries in the present day?

    There are actually people that have started high altitude ballooning groups that fly payloads to near space (above 75K feet and below 328K feet) and send up all sorts of things. The JP Aerospace Near Space Program not only does this, but they plan to fly a balloonship into orbit some day.  For only $150 you can send up a balloon and payload to 100K feet.  Maybe some one can start the Cockeyed Near Space Program.  The theme for it might be "Seeing The World Below From A More Cockeyed Perspective ."  Maybe we can get some Cockeyed Astronauts on SpaceShipOne in the future.

All I needed for this experiment were balloons, paper, ballpoint pen, a Sharpie, and a computer.  All of these I had on hand.  The balloons were now 5 days old and some were starting to become marginally buoyant.  What to do with those?  Suck the helium?  On a couple of those I did along with downing some Goldschlager and standing like a robot-zombie for five minutes, which ended up making my balloons start dancing on the ceiling all by themselves.  (Note to self: Never mix Helium and Goldschlager together!)

 But I think it was the helium provided inspiration for an experiment.

   What if I attached a strong (buoyancy) balloon with a weak balloon?  Would it travel farther than a single strong balloon?  In the spirit of all things Cockeyed it was time to find out!

   I separated all of the weak balloons from the rest and attached them to strong balloons.  With a label program I printed cards with my name, snail mail address and email address.

On the opposite side I made a design to catch the eye of the passerby.

  I took the cards and attached them to the balloons both singles and doubles.  Of all the balloons I had collected after the party, separating them, and joining weak to strong ones I wound up with about half of them singles and the others doubles.

I went to the trouble to assign a number to each and logged all the pertinent data.  

Balloon Group Number of balloons Color (s)
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
skipped
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
O
O
O
R
G
B
Y
G
P
O
G

B
P
P
P
G
G
Y
B
B,B
O,P

G,O
B,P
G,G
Y,R
Y,P
O,P
R,O
R,O
B,P
G,O
O,P

G,O
DNF
R,G
G,G
B,P

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LAUNCH DAY!

Date: 10OCT2004

Time:1530 to 1600 (aka 3:30 to 4:00PM)

Location: Seattle, Washington

Temperature: 63F/17C

Winds: 8mph from the SW

Upper Level Wind Direction: From the NNW headed towards Cockeyed HQ in Sacramento, CA! Perfect!

 

Here I am with the balloons ready for the first Cockeyed Airmail run in history.  Is it an unusually sunny day here in cool and cloudy Seattle!  It's so bright it's hard to open my eyes to see the camera.

 

5 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1...LAUNCH!

Off they go!

LAUNCH RESULTS:

 

I launched them in groups of five so it took a while to run back in to the house to get the next batch.  Most flew up and away to the north toward downtown Seattle.  Just a few flew marginally, landing in a tree or flying just above treetop level (100 feet).

   

Hopefully several of these balloons will catch the jetstream and head toward Oregon and California.  Rob, be sure to look out your door in a few days.  One may land at your doorstep.

Update! 

 

Hey Rob N.,

As far as I know, no balloons made it to Cockeyed Headquarters in Sacramento. Of course, Stacy and I have been spending a lot of time indoors lately, taking it easy. We could have easily missed one that flew or landed nearby.

- Rob Cockerham,
  Sacramento

Update!

 

Rob,
   I received a response for the Cockeyed Airmail files today. 
 
"Dear Robert,
      Your balloon was found by my 5 year-old son in a pasture on the ranch where we live.  My 10 year old son Casey and 5 year old Parker really enjoyed finding the balloon and returning the tag.
                                                                                  The Carrol Family
                                                                                    Etna, California"
 

 

 

 

The balloon tag had the number 22 on it which used two balloons with the colors orange and purple and was found on 11OCT04.  I checked out mapquest and it says that, as the car drives, this balloon traveled 521 miles in seven days.  Who knows how long it had been sitting there before it was found.
    Cockeyed Airmail may not be fast or accurate but it does get there!
 
Robert

How much is inside an acre? 

contact Rob | science club | pranks | How much is inside? | Home | Incredible Stuff I Made  

Dec 19th, 2004. Photographic Height/Weight Chart | The Weight of Clothing | The Television Commercial Database Terms and Conditions  Copyright 2004 Cockeyed.com