UNICEF and I have set an official launch date for the project a couple of weeks ago. It will be on the 9th of December at Balmoral School in Auckland, NZ. A lot of time has been spent by both parties on the planning of the launch. We will be inflating the balloon in the school grounds, then there will be various speakers, including myself, and the kids will present us with postcards. We will give the postcards to other schools later in the project. I’m looking forward to getting the project under way.
I went to Cairns in Australia for 4 days last week to meet the people I bought the project truck from. They explained to me the various functions of the truck and how to operate it. The truck will be arriving into Australia in January and they won’t be in Australia when it arrives for them to explain it to me. It was great to meet them after 3 years of communicating via e-mail. They gave me a lot of advice about overland travel as they have been travelling the world by truck for the past 4 years.
I have had a few rounds of vaccinations over the past month. I am now protected against all kinds of diseases, which is reassuring. I have also been sorting out the shipping of the balloon to NZ. I cleared it through customs after I arrived back from Australia on Friday and was relieved to see it arrive in one piece last Saturday after its journey from the Kubicek Balloon factory in the Czech Republic, and even more relieved when we put it up for the test inflation that afternoon. It was great to see the balloon in real life and seeing the project come to life.
The next couple of weeks will consist of preparing for the launch and registering the balloon. I will be taking it down to Wellington next Monday for its inspection. I am also working on getting a satellite phone, the Carnet for the balloon, communications, specialised clothing and electronics. There is always something to keep me busy. I enjoy the challenge.