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Reward offered for runaway science class balloon near O.C. airport

February 23, 2012 |  8:39 am

An Orange County high school is offering a $100 reward for a 30-foot-long balloon that floated away from a science class and raised alerts at a nearby airport.

The advanced placement class at Pacifica High in Garden Grove was experimenting with a solar-heated balloon -- measuring 30 feet by 3 feet -- to study alternative forms of energy, when it escaped from its tether and floated away, the Orange County Register reported.

The black plastic balloon had been used by instructor Steve Doucette for the last four years to show students the power of the sun.

The balloon reached anywhere from 2,000 to 3,000 feet, Doucette told The Times. The school called police to inform them of the balloon, which was heading for John Wayne Airport, where air-traffic controllers were notified. The airport was not affected.

"Those kids walked away, saying, 'Oh my God, the heat from the sun took that tube up 2,000 feet.' " Doucette said Thursday.

Doucette said he and his class do not want the balloon to litter the environment and are offering a $100 reward to whoever returns it to the high school.

"We started to consider where this was going to go, and our primary concern was safety," he said.

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-- Dalina Castellanos

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