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News » Secrets of the Skies
BPA Member Dane Kenny has been involved in the Cloud Lab project, in which a group of scientists travel coast to coast across the US in an airship to explore the Earth's atmosphere. As part of the expedition, parachute jumps were made over Flordia and Arizona. Photo shows Dane Kenny preparing for a test jump with scientific equipment from 12,500 ft. For the full story see 'Operation Cloud Lab: Secrets of the Skies', a two-part documentary series that was shown on BBC2 on Wednesdays 16 & 23 July at 2000 but you can still catch it on BBC iPlayer for a limited number of days after transmission. Click on red tab below for more.
Dane says "For the first jumps in Florida we we're trying to reveal how convection currents keep clouds afloat. The idea being that once under canopy (big, docile), the skydiver steers under the cloud, releases smoke and this is measured by observing scientists and devices carried by the skydiver."
"The second jumps in Arizona were to be High Altitude, High Opening (HAHO) jumps to be done from 26,000 ft, to be able the skydiver to carry petrie dishes on his clothing and equipment that will sample air and the presence of bacterial life at different altitudes."
"Now the hard part: the BBC were hoping that one of their presenters, Andy Torbet (A licence), 26 jumps and not jumped for three years would be able to do this and would it be possible for me to get him to the required level? If this was impossible - would I do it? The other issue was getting all the equipment together in such a tight timeframe, making sure it was capable of the task in hand, that it was safe, user friendly and finally conducting test jumps?"
"For those of you who have worked on production projects before you will know there is always a time constraint."
"The initial training/re-training took place at Netheravon and the Bedford wind tunnel, we then spent a few days in Eloy and DeLand prior to the shoot starting."
"Without giving away the outcome - I'll let you all watch the documentary - it was emotional..."
This was the comment made by the Executive Producer, BBC Science to those involved: "Cloud Lab was the most ambitious TV production in which I've been involved. It was editorially complex and logistically challenging and it placed huge demands on all of you. I am very proud of what you achieved. The finished films are visually stunning, the on camera performances are tremendous, the stories feel fresh and it has a look and tone different to anything I've seen before. I hope the audience like it, but I will continue to believe those things regardless of the viewing figures."
Updated 25 July 2014