Saturday we meet at noon to go out for the first SUMO flights at the station. Last tests, pack the stuff and we leave. The balloon is made ready, the laptop plugged, the planes put together.
Before we can fly the balloon or a SUMO, we need to get a permission from Longyearbyen airport each time. The last commercial jet for Saturday lands over us towards the west. So we can go.
The SUMO is launched manually, goes into Auto1, Auto2 mode and flies its paths. Everything works like a charm. We must be careful not to collide with the cord of the tethered balloon. Therefore, we remain north of the station towards Endalen. One goal of the campaign is to compare the different aircraft and balloon against each other. So we bring one by one in the air and fly them.
The wind freshens up to 12m/s, and thus it is cold as hell in a matter of ten seconds. The snowsuit helps a lot, but with the wind in your face and at your fingers, it is nasty. The fingertips of the gloves are cut-off, so that you can operate the remote control transmitter, laptop or camera. If it gets too cold, it really hurts and it does that for a long time. I forgot how cold cold can be. The weather protective cover of the transmitter is reinforced with duct tape so that the wind no longer blows through.
The SUMO make their rounds, it works. There are three sensors attached to the balloon string on 30, 70 and 110m. The plane flies to the same heights and does three circles at each altitude. It turns dark and the LEDs flash into the valley.