In the very early hours of Saturday 13th June (04:30am to be precise) the Geography department at Ranelagh school along with 16 students and some very, very, very keen staff and parents strapped Bear Grylls (the Geography departments mascot………. not the actual Bear Grylls!) to a cradle ready for his launch into the Stratosphere.
The project began 5 months before the launch date, with the students buying a weather balloon kit from the USA and then spending the next few months assembling the frame, calculating the required amount of Helium needed to lift Bear Grylls, contacting the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) asking them permission to launch. Testing the GoPro cameras that would film Bear Grylls launch and the GPS unit that would allow the students to track his route and hopefully retrieve him.
With the final checks complete Bear lifted off at 05:12am, to avoid any potential planes coming into land over Heathrow. He shot off straight into the sky at rate of over 5 meters per second and soon disappeared into the clouds. Whilst the students were enjoying a full cooked breakfast they tracked him via his GPS unit.
At 60,000ft his GPS cut out and Bear Grylls was on his own. Ascending into space. The onboard flight computer had Bear Grylls’ final height before the balloon burst as 90,219feet. Two and a half times higher than passenger planes fly!
The balloon burst was violent, spinning Bear Grylls upside down several times. As he descended into the lower atmosphere his parachute opened, bringing his decent down from over 100mph to 10mph. His total flight lasted just over two hours.
The students set off in the school mini bus once they knew where he had landed. He was in a field near Chesham in Buckinghamshire. He had travelled over 20 miles. They tracked his location on their smartphones and found Bear Grylls hanging 90ft up in an Oak tree!
After a brainstorm we took a quick trip to Wickes to build a large ‘poking device’……….which didn’t work. They contacted the local tree surgeons, Cholesbury Tree Fellers, who came to recuse Bear Grylls.
We think Bear we pleased to be home, mainly for the reason that we could remove the stick that was keeping him upright from his backside!
The project has been fantastic to be part of, it’s taught us so much about teamwork, how to debate and discuss different ideas and how to manage a budget, to some degree!
Bear will now take pride of place in Geography, resting in Geography until his next adventure. Maybe some more sedate, like a year 12 residential to Wales!
If you haven’t seen the Bear Grylls Space Balloon movie yet (or you have seen it but would like to watch it again!) here is the link:
Team Bear Grylls