4/20/2014

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Seahawks fans launch 12th Man flag into space

It’s one thing to fly your 12th Man flag over your house; it’s a whole ‘nother thing to fly your 12th Man flag over the entire world.

That’s what Seahawks fan Chad Peterson and a couple of his friends decided to do last weekend in July. Out of pure boredom, Peterson said, they grabbed a weather balloon, a tank of helium, a Go Pro camera, a GPS locator and a 12th Man flag, and drove from Marysville out to Eastern Washington.

“We wanted something to do over the weekend and came up with the idea of sending up a 12th Man flag into space,” Peterson told seattlepi.com, “to show our Seahawks pride and to show that the Seattle Seahawks have the best fans in the NFL.”

They headed off to the sand dunes south of Moses Lake, where they parked their truck and got all the pieces ready. Peterson, 27, and friends Brent Savell, 29, and Ryan Schutt, 26, filled the weather balloon with helium, attached a parachute and hooked up their contraption: a duct-tape-wrapped box for electronics, a mounted camera and a long post to attach the 12th Man flag.

Then they let go.

It took two hours for the 12th Man flag to reach about 90,000 feet, Peterson said. At that altitude, the balloon was soaring through the stratosphere — not quite as high as the generally accepted boundary of space (about 300,000 feet) but pretty darn high. For reference, it was at nearly 128,000 feet that daredevil Felix Baumgartner jumped out of out his helium balloon last October and broke the sound barrier as he skydived to earth.

Once it got too high, the weather balloon popped. It took about a half-hour for the flag contraption to fall back to the ground, Peterson said, landing about 50 miles away to the northeast.

“It took us, however, four and a half hours from when we launched the balloon to get its location in a farmer’s wheat field near Ritzville,” he said.
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