Launch Analysis

Google Project Loon

 

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) launch notices for the Winnemucca area were reviewed between Aug. 1, 2016, and Aug. 31, 2017. The dates of the scheduled launches and the final status of the launch event were charted on the calendar.

Dates marked in yellow indicate that a launch was scheduled and later canceled. Dates marked in green indicate that a launch was scheduled and the status changed from active to expired. Based on recent launch notices and actual launches a notice that expires most likely indicates that a launch did occur.

Active launch monitoring began Sept. 1, 2017. Dates marked in yellow continue to indicate that a launch was scheduled and later canceled. Dates marked in blue indicate that a launch was scheduled as active and a launch of a balloon was confirmed.

This table reflects both current and historical data. Launch notices were reviewed beginning Aug. 1, 2016, and launch monitoring started Sept. 1, 2017. This table current to Oct. 31, 2019. A new section added titled “Launch by Day.” This section looks at launch information from September 2017 forward and notes the day of week the launch took place.

October 2019 Launch Information

During the month of October, 17 launch notices were scheduled in which 10 resulted in actual launch events where 24 balloons were sent up. Fifteen of the balloons landed between 2.5 hours and up to five hours after launch and the other 8 balloons remain airborne.  Twelve balloons from previous launches in June, July, August and September also remain airborne.

At the Loon launch base at the José Aponte de la Torre Airport, the former Roosevelt Roads Naval Station in Ceiba, Puerto Rico, 15 balloons were launched in October. Twenty other balloons were airborne from launches in previous months in Puerto Rico and of those five landed during October. Oct. 31 there were 30 balloons still airborne from launches in Puerto Rico.

September 2019 Launch Information

During the month of September, 15 launch notices were scheduled in which 6 resulted in actual launch events where 10 balloons were sent up. Three of the balloons landed between three hours and up to three days after launch and the other 7 balloons remain airborne.  Nine balloons from previous launches in June, July and August also remain airborne.

At the Loon launch base at the José Aponte de la Torre Airport, the former Roosevelt Roads Naval Station in Ceiba, Puerto Rico, no balloons were launched in September. 29 other balloons were airborne from launches in previous months in Puerto Rico and of those 9 landed during September. Sept. 30 there were 20 balloons still airborne from launches in Puerto Rico.

August 2019 Launch Information

During the month of August, 15 launch notices were scheduled in which 8 resulted in an actual launch event where 12 balloons were sent up. Eight of the balloons landed between four hours and up to three days after launch within 28 and 115 miles from the launch base. The other 4 balloons remain airborne as do 7 balloons launched in June and July.

At the Loon launch base at the José Aponte de la Torre Airport, the former Roosevelt Roads Naval Station in Ceiba, Puerto Rico, no balloons were launched in August. 37 other balloons were airborne from launches in previous months in Puerto Rico and of those 8 landed during August. Aug. 31 there were 29 balloons still airborne from launches in Puerto Rico.

July 2019 Launch Information

During the month of July, 18 launch notices were scheduled in which 7 resulted in an actual launch event where 9 balloons were sent up. Six of the balloons landed between 2hours and up to six days after launch within 34 and 197 miles from the launch base. The other 3 balloons remain airborne as do 4 balloons launched in June.

At the Loon launch base at the José Aponte de la Torre Airport, the former Roosevelt Roads Naval Station in Ceiba, Puerto Rico, 4 balloons were launched in July. In addition to the 4 balloons launched 43 other balloons were airborne from launches in previous months in Puerto Rico. July 31 there were 37 balloons still airborne from launches in Puerto Rico.

June 2019 Launch Information

During the month of June, 14 launch notices were scheduled in which 7 resulted in an actual launch event where 11 balloons were sent up. Seven of the balloons landed between 3 and 7 hours after launch within 14 and 155 miles from the launch base. The other 4 balloons remain airborne.

At the Loon launch base at the José Aponte de la Torre Airport, the former Roosevelt Roads Naval Station in Ceiba, Puerto Rico, 17 balloons were launched in June. In addition to the 17 balloons launched 41 other balloons were airborne from launches in previous months in Puerto Rico.

May 2019 Launch Information

During the month of May, 8 launch notices were scheduled in which 1 resulted in an actual launch event where 3 balloons were sent up. The first balloon landed three hours after launch 70 miles northeast of the launch base. The other two balloons continued in flight with one landing three days after launch and the other landing four days after launch, both in the area of Miles City, Montana, US.

At the Loon launch base at the José Aponte de la Torre Airport, the former Roosevelt Roads Naval Station in Ceiba, Puerto Rico, 12 balloons were launched in May. In addition to the 12 balloons launched 53 other balloons were airborne from launches in previous months in Puerto Rico.

April 2019 Launch Information

During the month of April, 8 launch notices were scheduled in which 2 resulted in an actual launch where 2 balloons were sent up. The first balloon landed five hours after launch and the second balloon landed two hours after launch.

At the Loon launch base at the José Aponte de la Torre Airport, the former Roosevelt Roads Naval Station in Ceiba, Puerto Rico, 12 balloons were launched in April. In addition to the 12 balloons launched 48 other balloons were airborne from launches in previous months in Puerto Rico.

March 2019 Launch Information

During the month of March, 12 launch notices were scheduled in which 3 resulted in an actual launch where 3 balloons were sent up. All 3 balloons landed within 2 to 4.5 hours after launch. In addition, balloon 432 which was launched from Winnemucca Sept. 17, 2018, landed in Baja California Sur.

At the Loon launch base at the José Aponte de la Torre Airport, the former Roosevelt Roads Naval Station, in Ceiba, Puerto Rico, 30 balloons were launched in March. In addition to the 30 balloons launched 34 other balloons were airborne from launches in previous months in Puerto Rico.

February 2019 Launch Information

During the month of February, 3 launch notices were scheduled in which one resulted in an actual launch where two balloons were sent up. Both balloons landed five hours after launch.

In addition to the two balloons launched, one other balloon was airborne and appearing on tracking from a launch September 2018, HBAL 432.

At the Loon launch base at the José Aponte de la Torre Airport, the former Roosevelt Roads Naval Station, in Ceiba, Puerto Rico, 3 balloons were launched in February. In addition to the 3 balloons launched 39 other balloons were airborne from launches in previous months in Puerto Rico.

January 2019 Launch Information

During the month of January, 16 launch notices were scheduled in which four resulted in actual launch events where five balloons were sent up. All five balloons landed within two to six hours after launch.

In addition to the five balloons launched, three other balloons were airborne and appearing on tracking from launches in the previous months. Of those three balloons two landed in January close to Alice Springs in the Northern Territory of Australia leaving only one balloon launched from the Winnemucca base airborne.

At the Loon launch base at the José Aponte de la Torre Airport, the former Roosevelt Roads Naval Station, in Ceiba, Puerto Rico, 14 balloons were launched in January. In addition to the 14 balloons launched 29 other balloons were airborne from launches in previous months in Puerto Rico.

December 2018 Launch Information

During the month of December, twelve launch notices were scheduled in which two resulted in actual launch events where two balloons were sent up. Both balloons landed two and five hours after launch.

In addition to the two balloons launched, two other balloons were airborne and appearing on tracking from launches in the previous months. Of those two balloons one landed in December in Peru leaving only one balloon launched from the Winnemucca launch base airborne.

At the Loon launch base at the José Aponte de la Torre Airport, the former Roosevelt Roads Naval Station, in Ceiba, Puerto Rico, 14 balloons were launched in December. In addition to the 14 balloons launched 15 other balloons were airborne from launches in previous months in Puerto Rico.

November 2018 Launch Information

During the month of November, six launch notices were scheduled in which one resulted in an actual launch event where one balloon was sent up. That balloon landed seven hours after launch.

In addition to the one balloon launched, three balloons were airborne and appearing on tracking from launches in the previous months. Of those three balloons two of them landed in November leaving only one balloon launched from the Winnemucca launch base airborne.

At the Loon launch base at the José Aponte de la Torre Airport, the former Roosevelt Roads Naval Station, in Ceiba, Puerto Rico, 16 balloons were launched in November. In addition to the 16 balloons launched four other balloons were airborne from launches in previous months in Puerto Rico.

October 2018 Launch Information

During the month of October, two launch notices were scheduled in which one resulted in actual launch event where one balloon was sent up.

In addition to the one balloon launched, which landed eight hours after launch, 12 balloons were airborne and appearing on tracking from launches in the previous months. Six of those 12 balloons landed during the month of October. Five balloons that were on tracking left the tracking area at normal altitude early in the month and have not been tracked on FR24 since. Only one balloon remained on tracking as of Oct. 30.

Two balloons were also launched in Puerto Rico Oct. 25 but went off tracking at normal altitude over the Atlantic Ocean two and three days after launch.

September 2018 Launch Information

During the month of September, 17 launch notices were scheduled in which 6 resulted in actual launch events where 7 balloons were sent up.

In addition to the 7 balloons launched, 13 balloons were airborne and appearing on tracking from launches in the previous months. Of the 7 balloons launched this month 4 of them landed within hours and up to five days after launch. Two balloons launched in July also landed in August.

Two balloons launched in Puerto Rico, 302 May 23, 2018, and 271 June 6, 2018, landed within 100 miles of the Winnemucca launch base in September. These are possibly the last two balloons that were still in use from launches in Puerto Rico.

 

August 2018 Launch Information

During the month of August, 15 launch notices were scheduled in which 9 resulted in actual launch events where 19 balloons were sent up.

In addition to the 19 balloons launched, 7 balloons were airborne and appearing on tracking from launches in the previous months. This includes balloon 271 which was launched from Puerto Rico June 6, 2018. Of the 19 balloons launched this month 6 of them landed within hours and up to eighteen days after launch. Two balloons launched in July also landed in August.

 

July 2018 Launch Information

During the month of July, 10 launch notices were scheduled in which 4 resulted in actual launch events where 6 balloons were sent up.

No balloons previously launched from Winnemucca remained airborne before July 1, 2018. The only other balloon in the air at the time was 271 which was launched in Puerto Rico June 6, 2018. The six balloons launched from Winnemucca in July remained airborne.

Google X dropped “project” from the Loon name and Loon became an independent Alphabet company July 11, 2018. Project Loon, Wing graduate from X to become latest Alphabet companies.

 

June 2018 Launch Information

During the month of June, 12 launch notices were scheduled in which 3 resulted in actual launch events where 3 balloons were sent up.

In addition to the 3 balloons launched, 2 balloons were airborne and appearing on tracking from launches in the previous months. Of the 3 balloons launched this month 2 of them landed within hours and up to two days after launch. Balloon 267 launched June 21 and was last observed on tracking June 25 at 62,000 feet AGL 15 miles northeast of Basque, Oregon.

Between March 7 and June 27, 20 balloons were launched which landed within hours after launch and up to four days after launch.  No balloons maintained sustained flight except for balloon 267 which the status of is unknown.

May 2018 Launch Information

During the month of May, 9 launch notices were scheduled in which 2 resulted in actual launch events where 4 balloons were sent up.

In addition to the 4 balloons launched, 10 balloons were airborne and appearing on tracking from launches in the previous months. Of the 4 balloons launched this month all of them landed within hours and up to three days after launch. Of the 10 balloons previously airborne before May 1, 8 of those landed during the month leaving only 2 balloons launched from the Winnemucca base airborne as of May 31.

April 2018 Launch Information

During the month of April, 13 launch notices were scheduled in which 4 resulted in actual launch events where 9 balloons were sent up.

In addition to the 9 balloons launched, 11 balloons were airborne and appearing on tracking from launches in the previous months. Of the 9 balloons launched this month 7 of them landed within hours and up to three days after launch. The 2 remaining balloons continued in flight. Three of the 11 balloons already in the air landed during the month.

March 2018 Launch Information

During the month of March, 15 launch notices were scheduled in which 5 resulted in actual launch events where 5 balloons were sent up.

In addition to the 5 balloons launched 18 balloons were airborne and appearing on tracking from launches in the previous months. Of the 5 balloons launched this month all of them landed within hours after launch. Four of the 18 balloons already in the air landed during the month and another 4 balloons have not appeared on tracking in several days and their status is not known.

The anomaly reported last month when using Flightradar 24 to track flight history continues. It remains not as complete and accurate as it was and continues showing many duplicate records for the same flight identifier. The history for many of the airborne balloons do not appear. As a work around, doing a search by an individual aircraft and entering the FAA N number or the MODE-S code will bring back the individual record most of the time.

February 2018 Launch Information

During the month of February, 11 launch notices were scheduled in which 4 resulted in actual launch events where 14 balloons were sent up.

In addition to the 14 balloons launched 18 balloons were airborne and appearing on tracking from previous launches. Of the 14 balloons launched this month 6 of them landed shortly after launch.

An anomaly was also discovered while using Flightradar 24 to track the balloons. Three balloons launched at the end of January went up with identifiers 105, 106 and 107. Shortly after launch the identifiers for these balloons changed to 147, 148 and 149. In addition, the flight history on Flightradar 24 has not been as complete and accurate as it was in the past. It is now showing many duplicate records for the same flight identifier and the flight history for many of the airborne balloons do not appear.

 January 2018 Launch Information

During the month of January, 16 launch notices were scheduled in which 5 resulted in actual launch events where 12 balloons were sent up.

In addition to the 12 balloons launched 8 balloons were airborne and appearing on tracking from previous launches. Only one balloon, HBAL 021, landed shortly after launch.

 December 2017 Launch Information

During the month of December, 16 launch notices were scheduled in which 5 resulted in actual launch events where 10 balloons were sent up.

In addition to the 10 balloons launched 29 balloons were airborne and appearing on tracking from previous launches. But of those 29 balloons previously launched 18 of them, marked in green on the chart below, have not appeared on tracking for an extended period and are most likely no longer airborne.

Of the 10 balloons launched 5 appeared to have landed prematurely shortly after launch.

Loon balloons have recently been launched from the Jose Aponte de la Torre Airport in Ceiba, Puerto Rico. Ten balloons were launched in December and three were launched in November. Only two balloons, 083 and 077, have not appeared on tracking for an extended period after launching in Puerto Rico.

November 2017 Launch Information

During the month  of November, 14 launch notices were scheduled in which 6 resulted in actual launch events where 14 balloons were sent up.

In addition to the 14 balloons launched 30 balloons were airborne and appearing on tracking from previous launches.

Of the 14 balloons launched 13 appeared to have landed prematurely. Ten balloons came down within hours of launch and three landed within two days after launch.

October 2017 Launch Information

During the month of October, 25 launch notices were scheduled in which 10 resulted in actual launch events where 33 balloons were sent up.

In addition to the 33 balloons launched 22 balloons were airborne and appearing on tracking from previous launches. Nine balloons, 185, 188, 189, 012, 026, 192, 027, 034 and 231 have gone 10 days or more without appearing on tracking. It is possible that those balloons are over remote areas outside of the tracking system.

Of the 33 balloons launched 14 appeared to have landed prematurely. Six balloons came down within hours of launch, three landed the next day and the remaining landed within three to nine days after launch.

September 2017 Launch Information

Active launch monitoring began Sept. 1, 2017. Twenty-one launch notices were scheduled in which six resulted in actual launch events where 16 balloons were sent up.

The information in the table below starts on Sept. 2, 2017, and shows balloons that could be tracked back to a launch from Winnemucca and new balloons that were confirmed as being launched in Winnemucca. The new confirmed launches are indicated in the date field in blue with “WMC,” the airport identifier for the Winnemucca Municipal Airport.

Date fields marked in gray indicate that the balloon was within tracking range at the time of the query. Some of the fields marked in gray may reflect the state, province or country abbreviation that the balloon was over at the time of that query.

The HBAL identifier and monthly date field marked in gold indicate that the balloon has most likely landed and has not been visible on tracking since the last day marked. The altitude on these balloons was observed as descending and last noted as being at or below 12,000 feet AGL

Disclaimer:  The collection and display of this information relies on third-party systems and information which are not verified. The data, analysis and assumptions may contain errors and omissions. Information is offered as a general interest item to those interested in activities in the Winnemucca and Great Basin Desert area. All information must be checked and verified for any other use.


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