Runaway Balloon Threatens Air Traffic

Garden Grove science class experiment runs amok

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A hot air balloon science project got away from students at Pacifica High School in Garden Grove. It seemed to be heading toward John Wayne Airport (Published Wednesday, Feb 22, 2012)

    Birds have wings and helicopters have blades. But the solar powered balloon that got away from students at Pacifica High School in Garden Grove on Wednesday afternoon had nothing going for it but a lot of hot air.

    What began as an environmental science experiment took on a life of its own as the 30 foot balloon came loose from its tether and took off toward the sun.

    "And then it was floating, and oh oh, I looked over at the other guys and they were scared, like, uh uh uh," recalled science student Kalpa Semasinghe.

    "Next thing I know, it ‘s gone, and it’s been very enlightening," said student Jake Ivicevic.

    [UPDATE: Thursday, Feb. 23, 12:35 p.m.] Pacifica High announced a $100 reward for the return of the balloon. A science teacher told NBC4 it is the equivalent of about 100 trash bags.

    The plan was to teach students at Pacifica High why hot air rises. Lesson accomplished.

    "It was like a snake going over the science building," said Steve Doucette, science teacher. "I couldn’t believe what was happening."

    Neither could the Federal Aviation Administration, which alerted local airports to warn pilots of a large floating object, last seen at 2,000 feet. By sunset, there was still no confirmed sighting.

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