www.pilotballoon.com "the pilot balloon web resource" 

Up

Forward to Pilot Balloon Theodolites

image of Martin Brenner operating a pilot balloon theodolite with Winsock Electronics at the World Aerobatic Championships, Lakeland Florida July 2003

The inspiration for collecting the instruments and information contained in this website started with a search for a balloon theodolite in 1998.  At that time I discovered that the theodolites are not common and that that there was very little information available about balloon theodolites in general.  Almost nothing was posted on the Web at that time (or at least indexed on the search engines).  Obtaining government publications and manuals was extremely difficult. Most were superceded by more modern versions which replaced detailed sections about pilot balloon observations with "more up to date" information about radiosonds, and  radio-theodolites.  Often the older manuals with the required information were deemed obsolete and the documents were destroyed.

I was fortunate enough to have the skilled assistance of the Librarians of the California State University at Long Beach, as well some kind individuals in the NOAA and at Warren Knight Industries in obtaining historical government publications concerning pibals, manuals for theodolites, and related materials.  Another fine source for materials and, occasionally a theodolite, was the internet auction house Ebay.  Recently (2003) a vast number of government publications and technical manuals have been converted to PDF (Portable Document Format) and are being sold for under 10 dollars or so on CD ROM by vendors on the Internet.  These can be a great assistance and certainly more portable than the paper manuals they represent.  

I hope this site is useful to you, tracking down the materials that created it required hundreds of hours and a significant amount of personal funds.  I hope to steadily improve it as time and funds permit.  

Last but not least I should mention Sharon Alden, a Meteorologist/forecaster formally with the National Weather Service, now with the National Park Service, who requested that I acquire a theodolite for her, suitable for observing a balloon ascent.   This seemingly simple request started this whole project.

Image of Martin Brenner Martin Brenner
Pilot Balloon Observation Theodolites