Man in Mexico salvages test balloon belonging to UA student

November 2, 2020 GMT

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — A businessman in Mexico has kept a University of Arizona researcher’s hope of getting back his solar-powered balloon from being deflated.

Tristan Schuler, an aerospace engineering student, told the Arizona Daily Star on Monday that his balloon became lost during a test flight Oct. 15 from Lake Havasu City.

According to the attached GPS tracker, high winds swept the balloon 180 miles (290 kilometers) south and across the border. It ended up in sand dunes in a remote area of Sonora, Mexico.


Schuler offered a $100 reward on various social media platforms for anyone willing to go retrieve it.

Aron Brown, a businessman who lives in Rocky Point, saw the plea three days later and decided to try to find the balloon. He and his family drove to near the balloon’s last known coordinates. At one point, Brown took off solo on an ATV and found it.

He could not carry the balloon itself but retrieved its transmitter, sensors, electronics and a GoPro camera.

Schuler says Brown saved his project. Brown, who refused the reward, said it was a fun adventure after months of being quarantined by COVID-19.