The Project Team


The project activities comprise engineering, math, physics, launch site management and launch operations, tracking and payload recovery, image viewing site arrangement, documentary making, and overall project management including liaison with regulatory authorities.


The volunteers have been working on this project for over two years. It is technically very sophisticated, if not unique, which introduces risk for its overall success. To our knowledge, no other non-governmental group has ever attempted as ambitious an effort to view a total eclipse. The team expects this project will provide valuable insights and learning, which could be very useful for educational purposes.
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The Balloon Solar Eclipse Project was conceived by David Hunter, a local resident, community volunteer and member of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada - New Brunswick Centre. David is a retired medical physicist with a strong interest in astronomy and related sciences.

With David’s leadership, a core science engineering team of volunteers from across the country has been collaborating with two groups of engineering students from the University of New Brunswick—with the support of their faculty members—to design the payload components that will enable the telescopic capturing of the imagery of the solar eclipse.

Many additional community members from various backgrounds have also enthusiastically volunteered to support this unique project in various roles, including, notably, two licensed commercial pilots.

The project team has also received strong support and assistance from local businesses such as the Amsterdam Inn, On the Boardwalk Café and Wine, Bell Canada and JD Irving, as well as the District of Carleton North.


David Hunter
  • David is retired. During his "working years" he was involved in the development of high resolution X-ray digital mammography systems based on the material amorphous selenium. This work was conducted at the University of Toronto and the affiliated Sunnybrook Research Institute. He has had a long standing "interest" in physics, astronomy, meteorology, electronic music, life, and theology.
Lewis Cobb
  • MscE in Electrical Engineering from the University of New Brunswick. Career in industrial microcontroller system design. Currently involved in contributions pertaining to 3D modeling, 3D printing, and CNC routing. 
Stephen Downward
  • Computer Science degree from the University of New Brunswick. Currently involved in contributions pertaining to communications, programming and electronics. 
Dr. Don Plewes
  • Professor Emeritus from the Department of Medical Biophysics of the University of Toronto. Currently involved in contributions relating to the engineering design of the project testing, analysis and mathematics, and general advice. 
Tom Sisk
  • Retired Electrical Engineer who has worked with NB Power, Irving, and Coleson Cove over the span of 50 years. Currently involved in contributions relating to the engineering design of the project and payload, as well as general advice. 
Ken Strauss
  • Retired Electrical Engineer who has worked with Comshare and Ontario Hydro in technical roles related to communications, disaster recovery, and hardware procurement. Currently involved in contributions related to the mechanical design and testing of the Balloon Solar Eclipse Project. 
Through collaboration with the above engineering team via bi-weekly zoom meetings and lots of emails, steady work has been performed to define the design issues associated with the project. The sophistication of the project, let alone the dedication of the science-engineering team, should not be underestimated.
UNB Liaison and Faculty
  • Troy Lavigne, Project Officer, Electrical and Computer Engineering, UNB
  • Andy Simoneau, Chair, Department of Mechanical Engineering, UNB 
UNB Engineering Student Project Group 1
  • Roshan Peri
  • Savishta Rattun
  • Jacob Snider
  • Benjamin Thomson
UNB Engineering Student Project Group 2
  • Ethan Albert Garnier
  • Spencer Frederick Gowlett
  • Alex Thomas Johnson
  • Zachary Michael Titus
UNB Engineering Student Project Group 3
  • Olivia DeMerchant
  • Zachary Demerson
  • Matthew Snell
  • Zoe Devries
Several members of the local community have graciously donated their time and skills to assist as project volunteers throughout the planning and execution of the multiple test launches in order to ensure we are ready to conduct a safe and successful mission on the day of the Eclipse.

The project could not succeed without the following amazing team of volunteers:

Balloon Safety Officers
A critical role for coordinating launch approvals with NAV Canada, Federal Aviation Administration and the Air Traffic Control staff in Moncton and Boston. As a qualified, licensed commercial pilot, the Balloon Safety Officer ensures that the necessary notifications have been submitted and that our balloon can safely launch without affecting air traffic. The Balloon Safety Officer has ultimate authority for providing the final launch approval to the launch team and maintains contact with Air Traffic Control until the payload has landed.
  • Balloon Safety Officer: Jason Hovey
  • Alternate Balloon Safety Officer: Bob Childerhose
Launch Site Set-up, Safety and Security
Responsible for establishing a safety perimeter around the launch site, assisting with the set up for the Science Engineering team and the Balloon Preparation and Launch Team sites, restricting access to authorized personnel and providing a safe viewing zone for spectators to witness the balloon launch.
  • Cecile Blackie
  • James Blackie
  • Chip Hunter
  • Karl Lyon, District of Carleton North- Operations Team
  • Andrew Lloyd, District of Carleton North- Operations Team
  • Sharon Johnston, District of Carleton North- Tourism and Events Coordinator
Balloon Preparation and Launch Team
This team plans and carefully assembles the various components that form part of the flight train, including the balloon, parachute, cut down unit, and payload containing the cameras and computing equipment. They inspect the various components to ensure they are safely secured and begin filling the balloon with helium in anticipation of the launch approval from the Balloon Safety Officer. They then slowly release the balloon and ensure the payload begins its ascent.
  • Tom Sisk
  • Tom Hunter
  • Chip Hunter
  • Ethan Garnier
  • Geoffrey Foster
  • Gordon Hunter
Flight Monitoring and Tracking Team
Once the balloon is in flight, there is continuous monitoring of the flight through the use of the balloon transponder, the Automatic Packet Reporting System units, and the Spot Trace devices. The use of multiple sources of tracking the balloon and payload requires focussed attention to the ground station antenna and computing outputs.
  • Stephen Downward
  • Michael Dow
  • James Tompkins
Payload Recovery Team
After the balloon reaches its maximum altitude and the payload begins its descent, this team of resourceful and energetic volunteers begin to travel to the anticipated landing site so they can recover the payload. In addition to planning the best route to the landing site, this team also needs to be prepared to deal with various elements of potential sites such as deep forests or waterways.
  • Dr. Ian Giberson
  • Rick Pryde
  • Meg Pryde
  • Gordon Hunter
  • Bob Boyer

The project has been underway for several years. In addition to the science and engineering development, considerable effort was required to plan, consult and engage with federal, provincial and municipal levels of government to receive approval and support. Additionally, significant effort is underway to market and publicize the project with businesses, community groups, local residents and potential visitors.
  • Chris Docherty
  • Lawson Hunter
  • Camrose Burdon
  • Stuart Fraser TechHelpOttawa - Website
The project is documenting the efforts of the team and the footage of the launches in anticipation of developing videos and ultimately a documentary of the project.
  • Sandy Hunter- Cazador Inc.
  • Xaviar Johnson - Cazador Inc.
The project has received incredible support from local, regional and national businesses, community groups, associations and citizens who have provided various in-kind contributions. A number of corporate sponsorships are expected.
  • Amsterdam Inn and Suites, Florenceville-Bristol
    • Naith Baulkaran and Brooke Truscott-Arthur
  • Bell Canada
    • Tod Madden, Troy Saulnier, Andre Giordano, Gurvinder Saini, Mustafa Abu-Hantash, Bentley Boucher
  • District of Carleton North
    • Sharon Johnston, Karl Lyon, Andrew Lloyd
  • Irving Woodlands
    • Anne McInerney, Jason Limongelli, Robert Fawcett, Josh Cornell, and Daniel Langlais
  • McCain Foods
  • On the Boardwalk Café and Wine
    • Clare and Allison McCain
  • Royal Astronomical Society of Canada-New Brunswick
  • Western Valley Regional Service Commission
    • Andrea Callahan, Barb Sharp, Ignite

Meet the talented team of volunteers behind our project
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Meet the talented team of volunteers behind our project
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