High altitude balloon flights take a great deal of time to research and plan. When going through the process of designing and launching a HAB it is very easy to forget that the majority of the general public aren’t aware of the hobby, let alone what a HAB payload may look like. Forgetting that most people may not know what a HAB payload is if they came across it can be a recipe for the mission to fail, and by fail I mean be completed without causing alarm and injury to the participants and the wider public.
Last summer an American teen band launched a piece of pizza on a HAB payload.
This was harmless in itself but they failed to take simple steps to label the payload and describe the payload as harmless. A member of the public found the payload and called the local police. This sparked an incident. The sight of a polystyrene box with a parachute, a piece of pizza stuck on the side, and music coming out of the box would not scare me into calling the local police, but I would be able to work out what the obviously out of place package was. A simple label on the side of the payload explaining what it was, would have easily avoided this incident and the need for the operators to have to collect their payload from the local police.