High altitude photography


Home Balloon launch 2 Balloon Launch 1 The Brain High Res pic Updates




Balloon launch 1. Launch date: Sunday 20th March 2005. Update 30th September 2005: Balloon has been found and recovered! Read about it here.

Balloon launch 2. Launch date: Saturday 28th May2005. Recovered same day. Read about it here.


The following story is of my experience in attempting to take some photographs, and perform some experiments at high altitude. This was done as a bit of a hobby over the last few weeks for no particular reason other than to entertain myself, and for the challenge of getting something to the upper levels of the atmosphere, and back again safely. I place it on this website to expand the knowledgebase of a handful of people in the world that are crazy enough to do this sort of stuff.

I guess that those who are interested in electronics, ham radio, and aerial photography may also be interested in my personal experience of launching a helium filled balloon to the stratosphere.

The project has the potential to open up a whole new world of science experiments done in the environment of "near space". Near space is the area of altitude that is not quite space, but not quite Earth. The air is very thin, the temperature is around -60 degrees celcius, and there is no wind at all.

Due to the little atmosphere, radiation is high, and experiments can center around logging the ozone layer, and other environmental factors.


 Thanks to APMP for funding most of the project.


The idea:

The idea for me first came about when I watched Myth Busters. The particular episode was about getting enough helium filled balloons to lift a person sitting in a deckchair, and to prove or disprove the story about a guy in San Pedro, California that had supposedly done just that. In fact, the story is true. A man by the name of Larry Walters  in 1982 filled 45 giant weather balloons and set himself free to float around at around 16000 feet. He used a BB gun to shoot out the balloons and come back down. He was also fined $1500 for the stunt. But I digress, you can read the full story here.

After doing some further research, I found that there are some people in the US that regularly fly helium filled balloons as part of experimenting with ham radio gear, and transmission distances.

Here are some links:




And here is an excellent photo of what I was aiming for: (bottom of page, well worth a look)



While I'm not too interested in ham radio, I thought that it would be interesting and personally fulfilling to take some high altitude photos. Perhaps its just an ego thing, but after reading other's stories, I just couldn't get it out of my head. I just had to do it.

Click Here for Balloon launch 1 

Click Here for Balloon launch 2 









Thanks for checking out my website.


Philip Pawlowski



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This page was last updated on 23-Sep-2006.