San Jose father and son team break high altitude balloon record


By Lisa Fernandez

Publication: San Jose Mercury News (California)

Date: Monday, October 24 2011



A father-and-son team from San Jose announced Monday they broke a world record when their high altitude balloon soared 136,545 feet above the Earth.

Ron Meadows, 55, and his son, Lee Meadows, 32, both swimming pool service repairmen, launched the balloon about 7:30 a.m. Sunday near Highway 85 and Almaden Expressway.

The nearly four-pound latex weather balloon reached its peak altitude at 11:11 a.m, said Ron Meadows, who founded the California Near Space Project. The package, with a GPS, landed in a Manteca woman’s backyard — near her swimming pool.

Their balloon beat the previous record of a Cornell University balloon that reached 135,030 feet in March, according to the Amateur Radio High Altitude Ballooning website (

This is the eighth attempt the Meadows have tried to break the record.

“It’s unbelievable,” Ron Meadows said. “Beating Cornell University when they used a balloon that is probably more than $12,000, and ours cost one-one hundredth of that. Our calculations and measurements were right on the money.”

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Contact Lisa Fernandez at 408-920-5002.