One of the pieces of research which I am currently undertaking, is taking a fresh look at whether or not aircraft associated with the 1960's USAF "Operation Crowflight" generated Australian UFO reports. I will report back on this in a little while.
While reading some material on Crowflight, the question of whether or not balloon launches in Australia caused UFO reports, crossed my mind. Coincidentally, I came across the following article in "Australian Sky and Telescope" magazine, volume 6 number 8 dated Nov/Dec 2010 page 44.The article was written by Ravi Sood and titled "Astronomy in Australia with stratospheric balloons."The article described the use of massive balloons for x-ray and gamma ray astronomy.
By massive, the author is talking about balloons of 1.3 million cubic metres in size, weighing two tons, costing $300,000 each, with a flight train some 300 metres long when on the ground. The balloons float at a height of 30-40 kilometres.
In 1960, the US Atomic Energy Commission and the Australian Government used a facility at Mildura, Victoria to monitor nuclear test fallout material (same aim as Operation Crowflight which used aircraft flying up to 70,000 feet.)
Between 1960 and 1975 There were various launches.
1975. A balloon launching station was established in Alice Springs, Northern Territory.
Back to the article
"Nearly 800 stratospheric balloon flights have taken place in Australia since 1960, with over 100 being conducted from Alice Springs. " (p.46.)
"The stratospheric winds are strong easterlies at speeds of up to 200 kilometers per hour from mid-November to March and strong westerlies from may to October. The period when they switch direction is called "turnaround" and during that time winds are light and variable and flight times of 3 days and more have been achieved." (p.46.)
Downrange stations have been established at Newman, Western Australia and Longreach, Queensland. These locations are on the same latitude as Alice Springs.
The SN1987A supernova, "... saw the most intensive stratospheric balloon campaign ever anywhere in the world take place in Alice Springs." (p.46.)
In 2010 three balloon flights were schedules - 16 April 2010 with the TIGRE payload, which terminated 70 km south of Longreach.
Once I have completed my Operation Crowflight research I'll take a look at whether or not any Australian UFO reports have been caused by stratospheric balloons.