When getting ready to launch a high altitude balloon (HAB), the following needs to be done:
1. Run some dates and times into a flight prediction program to determine the best date and time to launch your balloon. That way, it (hopefully) won't land in the drink.
2. Make sure you have enough helium for your balloon.
3. You will need to file a NOTAM (NOtice To AirMen) with the FAA in the United States. Loonar Technologies has a website that goes into great detail about the FAA regulations governing a HIBAL (high-altitude balloon) launch. To file a NOTAM, you need to do the following:
3.1 Call the FAA at (877) 487-6867 the night before or the morning of the launch but no later than one hour prior to the launch. If you have to scrub your flight or your launch was delayed more than 30 minutes, you will need to call the FAA and let them know.
3.2 The FAA will ask what state you are in to connect you with a flight service specialist (FSS). Let them know you would like to file a NOTAM for a HIBAL.
3.3 You will need to have the following information ready for the FSS: Distance and direction from the closest airport (if you are not sure, the FSS might be able to use your latitude (LAT) and longitude (LONG)) (e.g., 11.7 nautical miles north of GON or 41.54,-72.08), your flight direction from the prediction software, the estimated burst altitude (in feet), launch date and time (in UTC), and your landing time.
4. Have enough zip ties ready – you'll need them for securing the balloon!