NIWA meteorologist Tony Bromley prepares to launch his helikite. (images: Amelia Nurse)
Two or three times a year the ballooning community get together for what’s called a fiesta, where they participate in a variety of competitions over several days. Weather and wind are crucial for piloting a balloon, and traditionally balloonists will utilize methods like dropping shaving cream over the side once aloft to see what the wind direction is below.
But this year at the Wairarapa Balloon Fiesta, things got markedly more high tech. NIWA meteorologist Tony Bromley brought his Helikite – a cross between a balloon and a kite which rises with helium rather than hot air. A range of measuring equipment is attached, and for the first two days, Tony was able to provide pilots with real time weather reports on everything from humidity to, more crucially, wind direction at various altitudes.
Amelia Nurse joined Tony Bromley and Rowena Moss on the third day as they raised the Helikite to measure the accuracy of the weather predictions they made the night before.