Tracer LiFePO4 to Power Transatlantic Balloon Challenge

Canada to Northern Europe in Two World Firsts

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We are delighted to announce that Deborah Scholes and her registered blind husband Mike will be using several LiFePO4 Tracer BP2607-II to power their equipment as they embark on their Transatlantic Balloon Challenge.

They’re flying over 2,700 miles in a Rozier Balloon to raise awareness & funds for Blind Veterans UK. The Challenge is being followed by Guinness World Records and if successful, Deborah will be the First Lady to captain a balloon across the Atlantic and Mike the first registered blind person to crew. 

The flight is scheduled to launch from Sussex, New Brunswick in Canada any time on, or after 7th June 2023, whenever meteorological conditions are favourable.

Stay tuned for further updates.

Pilot – Deborah Scholes
Mike Scholes
Flight Crew – Mike Scholes

01/06/23 – BBC Interview and The challenge begins.

Mike and Deborah have began their journey to Canada and the countdown to the flight window is looming. The pair featured on BBC South East for a quick interview which can be viewed following this link. (skip to 21min 57 Secs for the full interview) BBC iPlayer – South East Today – Evening News: 31/05/2023

Tracer Power Case Study

The Challenge: To Provide a reliable & lightweight power system that can be recharged via Solar during the flight.

The R77GB balloon, known as the first of its kind, can be flown either as a gas balloon or, for the Atlantic crossing, as a Rozier balloon when equipped with the cone. A Rozier balloon utilizes a helium cell in its top for lift, and its altitude is regulated by a small propane-fired burner that warms the air in the cone below the gas cell.
Deborah and Mike are planning to launch the balloon registered as G-ZOZO from the Elementary School in Sussex, New Brunswick, Canada (45°43’31.73″N 65°31’8.50″W) and anticipate landing somewhere in Northern Europe. The duration of the flight is estimated to be up to 6 days, depending on weather conditions.
Effective communication between the balloon crew and ground-based meteorologists is crucial for steering the balloon using wind directions at various altitudes. Deborah and Mike will rely on VHF and HF radios to establish communication channels and find the appropriate air currents at different heights.

Throughout the flight, they will need to power several electronic devices, including:

• Trig Avionics VHF and HF radio for communication with air traffic control.
• Transponder to enable airports and other aircraft to track the balloon’s location.
• Auto Burner to maintain the balloon’s level flight during the night.
• Strobe Beacon to ensure the balloon remains visible to other aircraft.

To provide a continuous power supply, three solar panels will be suspended beneath the basket in a triangular configuration, allowing them to receive a steady charge from the sun. However, in case of extended cloud cover that prevents the solar panels from charging, additional backup power will be required.

The Solution: Tracer BP2607-II LiFePO4 Battery Packs paired with Tracer Buck Boosters attached to 3 Solar Panels.

To provide power for their on-board electronics, Deborah and Mike will utilise multiple Tracer Power BP2607II 12V 7Ah LiFePO4 Battery packs. These batteries offer consistent power output throughout the flight due to their flat discharge performance. To recharge the batteries, they will use the Tracer Power TR8180 Buck Booster, which stabilizes the input voltage from the solar panels (ranging from 9-16V DC) and outputs 14V to charge the batteries.

During test flights, these batteries have proven to be invaluable, successfully powering the equipment even under challenging temperature conditions ranging from -15°C to +35°C.

Deborah and Mike will travel with these batteries in their hand luggage when they journey from the UK to Canada in June 2023. The batteries are UN38.3 approved and fall under the 100 Watt Hours limit, ensuring compliance with safety regulations. We wish them luck as they embark on their challenge.

We Would like to thank Tracer Power for assisting with the batteries and their valuable advice on choosing the correct Power option. On our test flights they’ve been brilliant powering the equipment on-board.

Mike Scholes G-ZOZO Crew Member
Hot Air Balloon Test Ground
Test Flight
Transponders with Tracer Batteries Built-in

06/06/23 – Launch Flight Postponed

Due to adverse weather conditions, The Transatlantic Balloon Challenge flight is not expected to launch from Sussex, New Brunswick, Canada until at least Saturday 10th June.

A vast low-pressure system off of the coast of Nova Scotia is causing unsuitable weather conditions for launch.

12/06/23 – Patiently Waiting

While Deborah and Mike patiently wait for the next weather update, they took the opportunity to speak to CBC News. The next update is due this Thursday 15/06/23.

21/06/23 – Launch Window Open

The weather is finally starting to look promising and the Transatlantic Balloon Launch is imminent. Flight Director Kevin Strass is currently assessing the weather over the North Atlantic and evaluating 3 separate launch scenarios with a further update expected in the next 24 hours.

23/06/23 – Flight Postponed due to Military Exercise

The launch of the Transatlantic Balloon Challenge flight has been postponed due to the uncertainty of being able to avoid the Military Exercise area in the East Atlantic Ocean. Current weather conditions would take the crew to close to a rescheduled military exercise.

12/07/23 – Standby

After weeks of unsettled weather, the crew are on STANDBY with a possible launch planned for the 14/07. The decision for launch will be given on the 13/07.

20/07/23 – LAUNCH 12:00 GMT

The Transatlantic Balloon Challenge has been given the green light, and the team is currently busy filling the balloon with helium. Debbie & Mike are scheduled to launch at 12:00 PM today GMT (Thursday, 20th July).

Inflating the Balloon for Launch

21/07/23 – Controlled Landing

After 19 hours of flying, British husband and wife team, Mike and Deborah Scholes, taking part in the Transatlantic Balloon Challenge, have been forced to make a controlled landing ahead of schedule. A technical issue with their balloon made it unwise for them to continue their quest to fly across the Atlantic and on a further journey of some 2,000 miles to Europe.

Putting safety first, they elected to land whilst still overhead Newfoundland and touched down safely just south of Meelpaeg Lake.

Debbie said: “With any big challenge like this there’s always a level of risk involved and that’s why it’s essential to put safety first and make sure that everything is working just as it should before you take that final step over the ocean. We are now carefully gathering all the information together concerning the technical issues that we encountered, not only for the benefit and safety of any further Atlantic crossing attempts we might make but also for the wider ballooning community.

Although greatly disappointed not to complete their journey, this is just a setback for this intrepid couple and has not dampened their adventurous spirits.

Basket & Balloon being moved from the launch site
Unloading the Balloon
Transatlantic Balloon Launch Site
Ready for Launch
Transatlantic Balloon Route
The Journey

For the latest info head to Balloon Flight | Transatlantic Balloon Challenge | New Brunswick
To donate: Deborah Day is fundraising for Blind Veterans UK (


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