A group of friends launched an iPhone and GoPro camera attached to a weather balloon over the Grand Canyon in 2013, and when it didn't land where they had planned, they thought their project was lost forever.
Yet two years later, their device was found by a hiker — and with it some incredible footage.
According to a YouTube video posted on Sept. 10, a group of students launched the weather ballon in June 2013 a few miles from Tuba City, Arizona. The video shows the group doing flight preparations such as parachute drops and trajectory planning before showing some of the images the camera captured.
The entire flight duration was 1 hour and 38 minutes, and reached a maximum altitude of 98,664 feet, but according to a post on Reddit, it took the group two years before they could see the footage from their device.
The post by user trexarmsss reads:
We planned our June 2013 launch at a specific time and place such that the phone was projected to land in an area with cell coverage. The problem was that the coverage map we were relying on (looking at you, AT&T) was not accurate, so the phone never got signal as it came back to Earth, and we never heard from it. We didn't know this was the problem at the time - we thought our trajectory model was far off and it landed in a signal dead zone (turns out the model was actually quite accurate). The phone landed ~50 miles away from the launch point, from what I recall. It's a really far distance considering there's hardly any roads over there!
TWO YEARS LATER, in a twist of ironic fate, a woman who works at AT&T was on a hike one day and spotted our phone in the barren desert. She brings it to an AT&T store, and they identify my friend's SIM card. We got the footage and data a few weeks later!
The post also said the friends almost cancelled the project because of the high cost of helium and includes a link to the YouTube video which has already been viewed more than 360,000 times.
Watch the video with the incredible footage below.