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PARIS launch go for 23 Oct

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The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

The Paper Aircraft Released Into Space (PARIS) team is delighted to announce today that the launch of our Vulture 1 aircraft will take place on Saturday, 23 October.

That date, of course, depends on the weather, but if it's a no-go on the day, we'll send the balloon skywards on the first available opportunity thereafter.

Now, you'll be wondering just where this historic event will take place, and the answer is right here (.kmz) - 1909 metres above sea level at the Peña Negra in the Spanish province of Avila.

The site is ideal for a number of reasons. First up, it's a major centre for paragliding, surrounded in all directions by sparsely-populated countryside which has few major roads, towns or bodies of water in a 40km radius. Here's a quick vid showing the location and the views from the top:

So, the chances of coming down somewhere awkward are minimal. For this reason, the powers that be (Aeropuertos Españoles y Navegación Aérea, aka AENA) don't consider PARIS a major threat to property or population, and have given a green light for the launch.

Secondly, we have to consider the weather. The PARIS schedule has been knocked backed a few times, mainly due to the release mechanism challenge. We need to get the Vulture 1 airborne before winter sets in, and our launch site offers an excellent chance of a spell of clear weather within the late October window.

The UK-based members of the PARIS team are, of course, absolutely gutted that they'll have to fly out to Spain for the big day, but are putting a brave face on the prospect of strange foreign food washed down with lashing of cheap wine. We hope you'll spare a moment to consider those less fortunate than yourselves and the sacrifices they make in the name of science.

On board for the jaunt will be Reg hack John Oates, whose mechanical savvy makes him an essential team member, and radio man Steve Daniels (callsign G6UIM), who'll be operating the tracking kit (more on that here).

They'll be backed by an enthusiastic group of locals, including telescope chap Alejandro Díaz and a couple of volunteer drivers to man the pursuit vehicles. We'd like to take the opportunity to raise a pint in particular to Alejandro, who did all the legwork with AENA.

It looks like we're all set to go, then, and down in the PARIS fab bunker, the Vulture 1 continues to take shape... ®

Additional PARIS resources

  • Our dedicated PARIS section, with all previous updates, is right here.
  • New to PARIS? We have a basic mission summary here (pdf).
  • Our Flickr page, with all previous photos.
  • Check out our YouTube channel - currently featuring a few kit tests.

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