While writing a blog post on the ways HAB flights can go wrong, I came across an article by the Telegraph news paper on the cost of Met Office radiosondes landing and damaging people’s property.
The figure of £25,000 worth of damage to 2010 seemed alarmist so I did some digging.
Data released to me by the Met Office under a FOI request suggests that high altitude ballooning is a low impact hobby. I asked the Met Office for information on insurance claims made as a result of their radiosonde programme during the years 2010 to the start of 2014. This is the response I got.
“No claims have been submitted to insurers during the financial years 2010/11 to
2013/14. The excess on our insurance policy is £5,000. We have had a small number of
low level claims made to us directly during the period, relating to matters such as, the
retrieval of sonde balloons caught in trees (various), one caught on a power line (2010),
one case of damage to a roof tile (2011) and one case of ingestion by farm livestock
(2012). The maximum cost of these claims was £200.”
Given that the the frequency of high altitude balloon flight by the Met Office is much greater than the hobby community, we can assume that the amount of claims from hobbyists and the science community is much less. While I don’t have any data from hobbyists, I am happy to assume that the impact of HAB as a hobby is much less than the Met Office radiosonde programme.