The Vienna Wireless Society balloon program provides club members an opportunity to experiment in flight technology, in tracking and direction finding, and to help in education programs. For flights where we are not supporting a school project club members have the opportunity to propose and fly small experimental packages. So far we have taken photographs from near space, measured temperature aloft, flown a dosimeter (with negative results), and carried seeds for an elementary school after school science project.
What shall we fly next? That is the question. Please come back later this year and find out!
The VWS balloon flights are flown in accordance with FAA regulations for free balloons. As is true for weather balloon flights, our amateur balloon flights do NOT exceed any of the FAR §101.1(a)(4)(i-iv) criteria that triggers a requirement for FAA waivers or in flight reporting to FAA ATC. By staying small (and fragile) we fly under the simpler FAR §101.7 that says we must not operate in a hazardous manner. We believe that we operate safely by keeping our flight string light weight, by running flight predictions using forcasts from official weather balloon soundings, by flying APRS trackers so we know where the balloon is flying, and by using official winds aloft forcasts to avoid likely penetrations of restricted or hazardous space like military bases or airports. In addition it is VWS policy to coordinate with the FAA in the issuance of a NOTAM (Notice to Airmen) even though FAR §101.7 does not require a NOTAM. We are making every effort to be safe within the rules short of simply not flying.