Hamish’s Space Adventure – A Cupcake in Space

Space, the final top tier! I’m not even sure if that pun works but I’m going to stick with it anyway! Allow me to introduce you to Harry Clarke, a good friend of mine and a great photographer that we’ve used for a lot of our magazine shoots. During a photo shoot for Cake Craft a few months back Harry came up with an outlandish idea to send a cupcake into space. Being the kind of person always looking to push the limits of cake decorating Paul B  was keen to give it a try. So without further ado here’s the story of hamish!

Music by MAXVIC


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“Three months ago I thought it would be a good idea to try high altitude photography. Then I meet Paul Bradford and the team and thought it would be a great idea to send Hamish their Highland coo into near space. So I text Max Catterall “Have you ever wanted to launch something into space?” to which his reply was “I’m sure you know the answer” and that is where the adventure began. As three months from here, we were going to be putting a cupcake into near space.

Here began the research and there was a lot! The Holy grail was coming across the guide called “Project Icarus” by 1337ARTS and the UKHAS page. These guides set out the basics of how to even start this kind of project and the links to everything you would need to know. From here we went on to planning the payload and how to even get a cupcake in the photos 20 miles high. This required many many technical drawing…on napkins and hours searching through videos of cats on youtube to see what and how others had sent things up.

Once we were confident the MOST important step was getting the Met Ballon Release Application into the Civilian Aviation Authority (CAA) of which the hardest part was getting two guys who can supposedly map read match a grid reference to a Google map. In true bureaucratic style we got the for through a week before we wanted to launch, didn’t effect my nerves at all. Now while we were doing this it is important to say that Paul Bradford and the team were putting Hamish through his training. If all went to plan he would be the first and also the fastest cupcake, with a free fall at about 150mph. The last thing we wanted was a Highland Coo freefalling from 20 miles high. So we put him through a form of G-force training, holding the base in my hand and spinning round pretty fast and shaking the cupcake, I mean we had to do some pretty technical stuff.

After three months of planning the week we had planned for came around and we made the journey to Kenmore, where Paul Bradford has his school. The first thing I have to say is the view from there is amazing couldn’t have been more scottish unless everyone was wearing a kilt, and to top things off we were staying at a pretty nice hotel, cleverly named Kenmore Hotel. Now after months of studying weather in the area we knew that all we could do look at reports and look at the jetstream predictions, which are pretty hypnotic when you cycle through a weeks worth fast.

Amazingly we got one of the stillest days, that week, we had seen in awhile and decided it was time for Hamish to make his adventure so as the sun rose so did we and we headed to the launch site. Strapped Hamish in, with our highly sophisticated harness system, gaffa tape. Filled the balloon with helium and after a couple of seconds of me feeling like a kid with a giant balloon, we sent him on his journey.

Hamish set off at a crazy 12mph, might not sound fast but imagine his face with no wind protection. The minute he set off upwards we headed straight to the car, via a cup of tea, and on to where he was predicted to land. One hour in we had noticed that Hamish wasn’t moving across the map and we were getting the same location every new report. This meant that Hamish had either aborted the mission after getting cold feet or something technical had gone wrong. So we set off back the way we had come to see what had happened. After a couple of tense minutes searching we found the box that had the tracker and camera in. Not what we were expecting and no one could find Hamish. After a brief explanation to a farmer as to why we were in the middle of his fields. We set off back to the launch site to see the footage and see what had happened.

The camera revealed some amazing footage of Kenmore on the launch and the views of the scottish peaks, with Hamish smiling happily without a care in the world. After a little bit of speeding through the footage we saw the moment it all went wrong.

Hamish hit some rough winds and as he did the radar reflector flipped over causing the whole payload to flip over leaving Hamish upside down. He didn’t seem fazed by the whole ordeal but not long after that the box with the camera became detached and plummeted to earth. The last we saw of Hamish was him securely attached to a balloon heading to his target height of 20 miles high! Becoming a true HIGHland Coo. He would have reached this and then once the balloon had popped he would have headed back to earth and landed roughly somewhere near Berwick Upon Tweed. Unfortunately because we left him at 8 miles high. We don’t know where he really is but if you go past Berwick Upon Tweed, keep an eye out for him because he will have landed there somewhere.


Interesting Statistics and Notes.

  • He traveled vertically at about 12mph
  • He would have fell back to earth at 150mph until he hit some air pressure and the parachute deployed and slowed him to 7mph
  • He should have reached 19 miles high
  • We left him at 8 miles high
  • He traveled across land only 20 miles
  • Hamish traveled vertically at about a third the rate of most commercial jets
  • The highest cupcake ever (i can’t find any records)
  • The fastest free falling cupcake
  • He Got higher than a Spy Plane
  • Hamish would have been in the Ozone
  • He would have gone from 0c to -60c (lucky he was wearing his suit)
  • Hamish was operating at 0.0024% of the Red Bull budget that saw Felix Baumgartner jump from the edge of space.
  • Hamish went beyond the Armstrong Line
  • He was 1 of 800 meteorological balloons launched that day
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