Allen and Charlotte Buckley with daughter, five year old Lily and the balloon’s payload

In fact the UFO turned out to be a weather balloon that had been launched in Germany and, rather than landing in a forest 30 miles away, as initially thought, it travelled more than 500 miles to Brook Valley Glamping near Llanfair Caereinion.

The Flight of Garuda, as it was christened by Solenix – a engineering company in the space market – has amazed its experts. On Sunday an engineer is meeting Charlotte in mid Wales to collect the balloon and its payload.

Charlotte and Allen, and their five -year-old daughter Lily, discovered the balloon in the fields at about 6.30am on Sunday, July 9.

“We were a little concerned about it but we had to retrieve it because of our guests and also the livestock,” Charlotte said.

“I said it might be a UFO and Allen looked at me and said ‘well there won’t be green men coming out of it’. There was a white box attached to it with camera and what looked like solar panels on it.”

The couple rang the number on the box and got through to Solenix in Darmstradt in south west Germany.

Solenix employers sending Garuda on its way. photo: Solenix

Engineers were thrilled to get the call. They had sent two weather balloons with payloads up in the past and this was the third mission.

A company spokesperson said: “Our third ballooning mission ‘The Flight of Garuda. took place at the Oberfeld in Darmstadt.

“Named after a mythical large bird-like creature with a strong and powerful body and the ability to fly very far and very high, we hoped our balloon would live up to this reputation. This has worked far too well as it turns out.

“Four days later we got an unbelievable call from Brook Valley Glamping in Mid-Wales, 889.29 km from from Darmstadt, stating that our payload has landed in their fields.

“The route is probably much longer, as the balloon did not fly straight to the landing point but certainly made a few circles. The project team is really exited that the balloon flew such a large distance across the English Channel.”

Solenix employees sending Garuda on its way. photo: Solenix

He said the payload’s case was designed in the style of a spacecraft, with cardboard “solar panels”. The remaining payload consisted of a brave Lego UFO in Solenix colours, one photo camera, one infrared camera, two video cameras, a phone for GPS tracking, an Air-Tag, and a Raspberry Pi.

“Compared to previous missions, the team added power banks and more heat pads to ensure that the video cameras could record for a much longer time, as temperatures of around -50 °C drain the batteries fast. Furthermore, the payload’s weight was optimised, as a goal of this year’s mission was to use less helium than in previous launches.

“According to the prediction, the balloon should have flown close to Würzburg where it would have reversed course and burst between Darmstadt and Dieburg. The parachute should then have carried the payload east again, where it should have landed south of Aschaffenburg.”

The company has christened the mission, The long Flight of Garuda – From Darmstadt to Middle Wales in four days.

Charlotte said: “I am going to Builth on Sunday to meet up with one of the employees and hand over the balloon and the box. We are looking forward to learning more about it’s flight.

“Lily has been so excited – she hasn’t stopped talking about it.”

The couple are the fourth generation of their family to farm at Brook Valley and launched the glamping side of their business in October.

published 2023-07-31 16:06:16