John Wayne Airport Warned After HS Science Balloon Flies Off

GARDEN GROVE (CBS) —  A black tubular balloon about 30 feet long that was being used in a high school science demonstration of how hot air rises got away from students Wednesday and prompted teacher Steve Doucette to notify authorities that it was headed toward John Wayne Airport.

The balloon, about 3 feet in diameter, got away from students at Pacifica High about 11 a.m., Garden Grove police Lt. Jeff Nightengale said.

“Somehow they lose control of it and, when it hit 2,000 feet in the air, the teacher called 911,” Nightengale said. “And, we’re like, OK? And he said, `Well, it’s floating south and it might make its way down to John Wayne Airport.”

Garden Grove police alerted the Federal Aviation Administration, which issued an advisory, Nightengale said.

“That’s the last we heard of it,” Nightengale said. “As far as we know there hasn’t been a sighting of it and we don’t know what happened to it. It could have drifted over to the ocean and popped.”

The student’s in Doucette’s Environmental Science Class were learning about solar energy. They were in the school’s quad, when the balloon took off. “The students were flying the balloon like a kite on a string,” he says, “and when the string broke, the balloon just started lifting and got away from us.”

A spokesperson for the airport said the balloon was never a factor.


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