Recovery Procedures


Yes this is a repeat of the information on the Tracking and Recovery home page. But, if you glossed over it, read it now. We don't want anyone to come to harm in the process of recovering EOSS payloads.

The number one priority for an EOSS Tracking and Recovery team member is to maintain their own personal safety! This is paramount and should never be subordinated to the "needs of the T&R team". Nothing is more important than your continued well being. EOSS will gladly sacrifice a payload if it means we can ensure your safety.

While recovering payloads ALWAYS act in a safe and judicious manner. Rely on your common sense, and when it tells you all is well, corroborate this feeling of well being with your fellow tracking and recovery team members. Maybe your common sense is taking a temporary vacation. Mine apparently did a couple of years ago when I participated in yanking a payload out of some power lines.

DO NOT attempt to remove payloads from said Power Lines. Call the Electric Utility Company. They actually know how to handle this situation safely. Let them.

DO NOT attempt to enter fields with large animals. You are not a toreador, you are a tracking and recovery specialist.

DO NOT attempt to walk across ice covered ponds, lakes, streams or rivers. You are a warm blooded animal not someone who would do well after crashing through the ice into the near zero (C) temperatures of the liquid environment hiding below the surface.

Do NOT attempt to drive through moving water in a vehicle. Unless you KNOW it is safe, meaning you have personal knowledge of a place where you know you can safely drive through a shallow stream, stay out of the water.

Take the above examples as just that, examples, not a complete list of what not to do. Exercise extreme common sense. Talk with your companions before you decide to take any action that could be remotely thought of as dangerous. Maybe they will talk a little additional common sense into you and save us all from a nasty afternoon.

Drive responsibly! Check this page for some warnings on what can happen while driving on the county dirt roads of Eastern Colorado.

On normal hard top roads use all the caution you normally would if driving in an area which you aren't familiar.

Remember, you are NOT driving to aunt Daisy's. You are engaged in a heavily multitasking environment. Not only are you zipping down the road at high speed, you are probably listening carefully to your radio, talking on the radio, changing frequencies on the radio, peeking at a computer screen or APRS display on your radio. This is dangerous stuff. It's dangerous at the speed limit much less beyond it. So, exercise extreme caution and consciously maintain vigilance on your driving tasks relegating all Tracking and Recovery operations to secondary status.

If you feel you may need assistance for an impending or existing medical condition, report immediately to net control! DO NOT HESITATE! Most likely your "problem" will not impact the successful operation of recovery. Much more likely, the T&R coordinator will simply split off one tracker to come to your assistance. So don't be shy about this, speak up. If you worry about what others will think, stop a moment and remember, the other trackers are your FRIENDS! They do NOT want to be chasing about Colorado looking for a balloon only to later learn you were in medical trouble and didn't want to bother them about it. They will all feel guilty if you do NOT speak up!! Also, consider what you would do if you found someone else in need of assistance. Would you hesitate to break into the net and call for help. Of course not. So, don't treat yourself as a "second class hunter". Respect your own needs as you would those of any other member of the Tracking and Recovery team.

Priority TWO

This is obvious but, recover the payload.

When you find the nearest point on some road from which you can approach and recover the payload ...

Follow These Procedures


First, find the land owner and obtain permission to enter their land. This is not an idle suggestion or comment, it is the basic rule EOSS follows whenever we need to enter private property. WE DO NOT TRESPASS.


WAIT on the road until at least ONE other tracker has arrived on scene.

  1. Establish communications with the launch site. If this communications link can NOT be made, dispatch a tracker to a location where they can act as a relay to the ground station. It is important to be able to report back payload conditions and verify instructions on recovery procedures at times. Ideally, all recovery instructions should be posted to the web pre flight and several recovery team members should print out copies to be taken into the field in case communications are impossible with the ground station.
  2. Establish simplex communications between recovery crew members only if needed. If the recovery operations repeater is easily hit with hand-helds, STAY on that frequency so that individuals at the ground station and general listeners on the net may keep up to date on the status of recovery operations. Safety is the prime consideration. If hand-helds don't hit the repeater, then by all means switch to simplex to ensure reliable communications with your team mates.
  3. Verify with the Ground Station what special recovery procedures are to be implemented (shutdown procedures, data gathering procedures)
  4. Verify that the recovery crew may move the customer payloads before you venture into the field.
  5. Make your way to the payloads and once there
    • If the customer requirement is that they recover their payloads YOU MUST WAIT until they arrive before touching any customer payload.

      Touch no other part of the payload train with the single exception of powering down EOSS payloads. You may move an EOSS payload by rotating it about the supporting axis. Do NOT disturb the rest of the payload train when deactivating EOSS Payloads.

      If a customer is relying on accurate observations of their payloads and moving an EOSS payload to turn it off would disturb that observation, then wait for the customer to gather data before deactivation of EOSS equipment.

      The exception to all of the above is when a strong surface wind is about to disturb the payload train. In that case, the prime responsibility is to ensure that everything stays put. Attempt to minimize disruption of the landing pattern by holding down a parachute that's attempting to drag the payload train away. If a "still inflated" balloon is attached and dragging the train, haul it down and follow net control's instructions on how to deal with it. The launch team might want that balloon back intact and there may be special instructions on how to accomplish this task. Or perhaps they will just instruct you to take a knife to it to deflate it. But, ask to be sure you are doing the right thing.
    • GET A GPS FIX at the touchdown location.
    • Photograph the payload train.
      • Attempt to photograph the full train on the ground.
      • Attempt to photograph close ups of each payload.
        • If the sun is out and shadows are available try and photograph from an angle that includes the shadow so that customers can determine payload attitude on the ground.
        • Use EXTREME close-ups (a foot or less) to show entanglements, damage etc. It is very hard to make out support lines and antennas and dents and bumps amid the typical vegetation at a landing site.
      • If any damage is seen (without touching or moving a payload) photograph it.
    • Once the customer is satisfied and has gathered all information needed and you have documented the location of the touchdown via GPS and photographed the payload train you may move (pick up) the payload train and return it to vehicles for transport back to the launch site.