Tropical Ice Core by Balloon
With the highest ever launch of a hot air balloon this summer in Bolivia, an attempt will be made to transport ice cores from the summit of Sajama (6548 m asl: 21,477 ft) to a freezer on the Altiplano below. If successful, the balloon will allow transport of the ice directly from the drilling site to the freezer in about 1 hour, much faster than the two days which would otherwise be required to carry the cores down the slopes of the volcano.
The objectives of the ice core drilling program, which is funded by NOAA and NSF, are: (1) to determine the synchroneity and magnitude of high frequency (annual to decadal scale) climate variability for the last 1000+ years as inferred from temperature, precipitation, and atmospheric chemistry changes in the ice core records (special emphasis will be placed on El Nino-Southern Oscillation events and the "little ice age" cool phase from about 1450 to 1880 A.D.); (2) to extract a second ice core record of tropical climate conditions during the Last Glacial Stage to complement the 20,000+ year record recently recovered from Huascarán (Thompson et al., 1995)1; (3) to analyze the elemental and isotopic composition of trapped gases, such as 18Oatm and CH4 (methane), in air bubbles in the ice core. The establishment of a tropical ice core gas record such as methane requires that the ice be kept at or below -15 degrees C after recovery, which is the reason rapid transport is required.
The balloon, called "The Soaring Penguin," is currently under construction by Cameron Balloon Co. and will be piloted by Bruce Comstock, a 26-year veteran pilot. The project is being funded jointly by a local businessman and the National Geographic Society. The design, the theme of which is "The Penguin That Could", was created by Whitney Braunstein, a 14 year old research intern at the Byrd Polar Research Center.
The Board of Trustees of the National Aviation Hall of Fame will induct Joe Kittinger during a black tie dinner July 19. The ceremony will be held at the Dayton Convention Center, Dayton, Ohio. Kittinger is a former Air Force test pilot and currently barnstorms the country in his open seat plane when not flying gas and hot air balloons.
Kittinger was honored by the National Aeronautic Association in 1995 as an Elder Statesman of Aviation (Balloon Life, September, 1995).
The Illinois legislature has approved a $50,000 funding grant for Champaign County. The county has been selected as the host site for the U.S. National Hot Air Balloon Championships for 1998-2000 by the Balloon Federation of America.
In a prepared statement the state legislature stated, "...[we] are very pleased to have this money in the budget. We want the state to recognize what an honor it is for Champaign County to be selected as the host of this national event and the economic impact it will have locally."
Nearly 200 balloons will participate in this nine day event, attracting over 200,000 spectators who will patronize local shops, restaurants, hotels and gas stations. The estimated impact of the event is said to be between $18 and $22 million for Champaign County.
Just what politicians should be funding—hot air.
Volunteer Protection Act
President Clinton signed the "Volunteer Protection Act of 1997" into law during a White House ceremony on June 19. The act provides volunteers working for nonprofit and governmental entities certain protections from civil liability.
President Clinton said, "Through citizen service, Americans recognize that we are responsible for one another and that we are members of a true community. All levels of government should encourage citizens to volunteer for service. This bill is a small part of what the Federal Government is doing to help our citizens serve as volunteers."
The new law provides certain liability protection for volunteers. This is of benefit to non-profit balloon clubs and their officers. Some balloons have had trouble getting members to run for elected office for fear of personal liability.
Garmin GPS II Plus
Garmin International, Olathe, Kansas,. has announced the GPS II Plus, a 12-parallel channel receiver. The new "engine" of the GPS is sensitive to weak satellite signals and over samples stronger, existing signals for quick and reliable position information.
Garmin claims that the 12-parallel channel receiver locks on satellites fast and stays locked on even under dense tree cover or in steep-sided canyons. In addition the unit has 500 waypoints, over 1,000 tack log points, up to 16 different graphic symbols, and a 24 hours battery life with 4 AA batteries.
For more information contact Garmin International, 1200 E 151st St, Olathe, KS 66062 or call (913) 397-8200.
Mach Zero, Peachtree City, Georgia, manufacturer of inflator fans and resealer for popular aircraft radios and electronics, announced that their homepage is available on the World Wide Web. The Internet address is email@example.com.