As the Captain of a marine assistance boat, Mike Langenbach’s life is far from mundane. He was sure that he had “heard it all” until Thursday, May 4, when he received a phone call for help.
The caller claimed to have a bizarre request that might require help from Sea Tow. Capt. Langenbach assured him that after years of experience on the water, there wasn’t much that could surprise him.
The request was regarding a weather balloon that had crashed into the Long Island Sound and needed to be retrieved. Capt. Langenbach’s imagination began to run wild with the possibilities. Is it a balloon owned by NASA? What data is the balloon trying to collect? With the anticipation of a different and mysterious retrieval on his mind, he sprang into action and began making his way to the device’s last known GPS location.
Capt. Langenbach was halfway to the location, when he found out the device was not lost by NASA, rather the caller was a 6th grade teacher from Mountain Top, PA trying to recover his students’ science project. The device was packed in a water-tight Styrofoam cooler equipped with a go-pro Camera and a GPS tracking device attached to a helium balloon.
By being given access to the balloon’s GPS tracker through his phone, Capt. Langenbach chased it all the way to the Connecticut shoreline close to Sheffield Island, only to find out the balloon had made its way back on to the Long Island side. A lobster boat had found it and they were more than happy to hand it over.
Captain Mike promptly went to the post office to return the balloon to its rightful owners. The students were so thrilled to have their science project back, that they each sent a personal note to Captain Mike to thank him for his efforts to help them out. Sea Tow to the rescue!