04/28/14 Thanks to a farmer who lives just west of Bremen, the Fox Valley Composite Squadron, a West Chicago, based unit of the Civil Air Patrol, located the 28-inch neon pink paper airplane that was lost over Marshall County on December 28th as they were attempting to break a world’s record.
The project is part of the STEM (science, technology, engineering & math) education the Civil Air Patrol does with the balloon launch. Attempting to break the Guinness World Record last year the cadets built the plane with a payload that allowed them to follow its path as the high altitude balloon ascended. At 85,153 feet, just 4,438 feet shy of the record of 89,591 feet a failure was experienced by the balloon and the plane fell back to ground. Using telemetry data and historical weather information the team determined where the plane likely landed.
The club got a search plane in the air that day to look for the project, but was unsuccessful. They conducted a media blitz and were interviewed on the “What’s Your Opinion Show” in January but with all the snow this winter the plane and payload weren’t located.
Plans were to conduct a land and air search on Saturday but on Thursday Cheryl Stichter discovered the paper airplane. Working the field, she saw something but wasn’t sure what it was. When she got closer she noticed the Civil Air Patrol markings and the payload the plane was carrying.
On Saturday the West Chicago Civil Air Patrol brought two planes and about a dozen people to the Plymouth AirPort. They did conduct some practice search and rescue operations.
Although this is their second failure, the cadets are determined to take another shot a breaking the world record for a near space, high altitude, paper airplane launch.