An Interesting Experiment!

| December 18, 2007 @ 8:19 pm | 22 Replies

This came in via e-mail this afternoon… I thought it was worth posting on the blog…

“I had to let you all know about an experiment my 12 year old son tried last Saturday during the high winds. We had several helium filled latex balloons left over from a party Friday night. My son decided to put our address, phone number and a note that said “if you find this call”. He put the information on a white balloon with a black sharpie. He released the balloon from our front yard, in Northport at approximately 12:30pm on Saturday. We really didn’t even think about it again. Well, Sunday afternoon when we returned from church and lunch there was a message on our voice mail. When my husband checked it we were in disbelief.

A lady from PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA had called while we were in church and said she found the balloon. We could not believe it…so I immediately called her. She said that she was driving home Saturday night at around 9:00 CST and saw the white balloon with black writing next to a creek and she pulled over to get it. She thought it was a hoax but she said she had to call our number anyway. We are so astounded that the balloon survived and made it to Pennsylvania within just a few short hours. It was just a simple latex balloon from the store filled with helium.

We have told our friends and my son has tried telling everyone at school but as you might imagine, no one really believes us. It is absolutely true. We thought you might find this very interesting.

Thanks, Sonia Johnson”


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Category: Pre-November 2010 Posts

About the Author ()

James Spann is one of the most recognized and trusted television meteorologists in the industry. He holds the AMS CCM designation and television seals from the AMS and NWA. He is a past winner of the Broadcast Meteorologist of the Year from both professional organizations.

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  1. The Beaver says:


  2. Mike Wilhelm says:

    I don’t know you Sonia, but I believe your story. How cool is that?!

  3. Anna says:

    Neato! 🙂

  4. Holy Cow…great story! 🙂

  5. Ann Prestridge says:

    Sonia, I believe you, too. The atmosphere is a phenominal intity and can do many strange and awesome things. I remember 0n March, 13,1993, it snowed, no, came a blizzard in Opelika. The blizzard was amazing in itself but when I heard thunder, I really was amazed. It was an eerie and strange experience. (I remember so clearly because that just happened to be my fiftieth birthday.)
    Think about what a tornado can do; or a hurricane. Those winds continue up the entire coast of the Eastern United States and can also follow the Mississippi inland to its headwaters. I can easily see a balloon carried aloft on those winds from the Gulf Coast to the Canadian border. Your son has had the same discouraging experience that our kids had when they were in Elementary school. We traveled a lot with them so when they studied geography, they could say they had been to many of the places they were studying, i.e., the U.S. capital, Abraham Lincoln’s birthplace, Montecello, Disneyland (before DisneyWorld was even begun), Petrified Forrest in Arizona, the Painted Desert, the Salton Sea, Grand Canyon, Andersonville Prison, various beaches and mountains, indoor and outdoor theater, and many, many other places and events. No one, not even the teachers, believed them. I had to send pictures. They were very annoyed to be accused of being fibbers and disappointed that they could not share their wonderful experiences with their classmates. Tell your son not to be discouraged by the disbelief. Keep experimenting and he will experience many phenominally wonderful things in the world. Don’t let him lose his wonder of the world around him.

  6. John Terry says:

    This happened to me one time, about 20 years ago when I was in the second grade. One day our entire school (Englewood Elementary, Tuscaloosa) let helium balloons go with our name and the school address attached as part of a Just Say No To Drugs program. I didn’t really understand the logistics of all that, but out of, I guess 500 kids, my balloon got a response back from a farmer in Greenville, Ga. I looked on the map and saw that it was almost due east of Tuscaloosa. I still have the letter he sent me in an old memories box. It was truly amazing.

  7. SPridmore says:

    Wow! I wonder if I can send my Dad’s Christmas present via air balloon. Do you think their might be a direct path in the atmosphere between here and Pittsburgh? LOL

  8. Joey Calabro says:

    It’s sleeting here in Dahlonega Georgia. Current temperature is 35. I walked out and after a minute or two it started to sleet. I did not think there was a chance of precip tonight. About 35 miles to the northeast Rabun County in extreme NE Georgia is in a winter weather adv. Have a great evening.

  9. Bill in Vigo says:

    I bet your son is proud as a peacock as he should be. quite an experiment for sure.

    It is raining here in Vigo as I type this entry with temp of 42.3 and nice breeze.

  10. MatthewP says:

    i totally believe this story. That’s awesome!

    At my church, we release balloons every year on Mother’s Day…and sometimes on other holidays as well. The most distant place we’ve ever gotten anything in return from, was South Carolina, i think.

    So it’s cool that yours went to Pittsburgh. It makes me want to go out and send up a balloon right now 🙂

  11. Stephanie Honeycutt says:

    Hey that is pretty cool!! Some days I can’t even get home from my workplace on hwy 280 in that time frame LOL!

  12. mark says:

    COOOOOOOOL !!!!!!!!

  13. I can see a run on latex balloon at local stores! 🙂

  14. Sarai says:

    That is awesome! It would be really fun to put GPS chips in balloons and track them. *grin*

  15. shep says:

    Way to go-neat.It is amazing what the winds can do -the day after the deadly tornado that hit Oak Grove (?) near B’ham several years ago I found pictures and a cancelled check in my yard in Gadsden-they were in pristine condition after traveling that far in a storm.Sadly,I later read that the lady whose check I found was killed during that tornado.

  16. Jenny says:

    Wow, that is sooo cool. It really does make me want to send one up now.

  17. db says:

    For Western Pa, a lot of storms come from the SW up the Ohio River Valley, or from Canada from the NW. In January we get snow, then sleet, then rain, then snow, etc. Awfully messy walking to the school bus or from the car to work.

    I believe the balloon story too – it sure was windy Saturday!! I like the GPS chips idea – can that be my thesis at Huntsville UAH?? I would LOVE to go to UAH meterology program or work at NASA and live in Huntsville.

  18. db says:

    Tim, please put in a good word for me!! Giggle!

  19. Stephen Davis says:

    That is really cool… some day i want to try that too! 🙂 🙂

  20. Walle says:

    Really wondered what news were posted about the strange high winds we had here in NE AL last night and was more than surprised to find the latex ballon story…amazing for Sophia and her son…and thanks for posting Sophia -via James Spann!
    We had shutters ripped from our home and a very heavy sprinkler frog and a few large flowerpots ‘desposited’ quite a ways from the house. Do not know what the weather phenomenon last night was called, but heard it was quite unusual, since the rain/storm clouds passed right to the south our location.
    I almost dreaded to check the roof, though the shingles were all intact.
    Ya’ll have a safe Christmas !

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