Gondwana History: Memorable Moments from Namibia's Past, 2nd edition, by Mannfred Goldbeck et al.

Gondwana History: Memorable Moments from Namibia's Past, 2nd edition, by Mannfred Goldbeck et al. Nature Investments. Namibia, 2012. ISBN 9789994572540 / ISBN 978-99945-72-54-0

Gondwana History: Memorable Moments from Namibia's Past, 2nd edition, by Mannfred Goldbeck et al. Nature Investments. Namibia, 2012. ISBN 9789994572540 / ISBN 978-99945-72-54-0

Some stories in Gondwana History: Memorable Moments from Namibia's Past, 2nd edition, by Mannfred Goldbeck et al. are accompanied by illustrations even richer and more elaborate than the ones used in the newspaper stories.

Sven-Eric Kanzler  Mannfred Goldbeck  

Rockets and planes: farmers get ready to induce rain

Raindrops keep falling on my head... this golden oldie (by B. J. Thomas, 1969) sums up the 2011 rainy season in Namibia. Extensive rainfalls in large parts of the country put smiles on the faces of farmers, but on the other hand the damage caused to the infrastructure of the country, especially to roads, was enormous. From the position of surplus rains, memories of the droughts in past years seemed to slip into oblivion — like for example the drought of the 50's which saw the desperate founding of Rain Clubs that sought to induce rain by artificial means. When in the mid- to late fifties many farmers in the former South West Africa reached despair during the drought, cloud seeding was attempted for the first time. This was effected by means of either rain rockets which were particularly suited for private use by an individual, or by means of 'rainmaker' aircraft. These planes discharged a mixture of salts and other chemicals into the bottom layer of cloud formations. Silver iodide was most commonly used at that time. It attaches itself to the cloud vapour and causes many tiny condensation nuclei to form. These are a prerequisite for precipitation. As soon as a nucleus has grown large enough it will release its moisture. The first attempts at cloud seeding by plane were made in the mid-50s in the Wilhelmstal District, but the experiment was soon abandoned. A few years later, in 1959, the Uhlenhorst Farmers Association was established by 17 farmers who owned a total of 120,000 ha of land between them. One of their priorities was rain seeding. Drought prevailed, the land was barren, but opponents to the project argued that making rain was the prerogative of a higher power. Unfazed, the Uhlenhorst farmers collected enough funds for their costly enterprise to hire a De Havilland Chipmunk in February 1959 and equip it with an injection unit. Former air force pilot P. J. Kayssler, who farmed at Bitterwasser, performed the 26 rain flights scheduled between 12 February and 26 March that year free of charge. The biggest success, according to the Uhlenhorst farmers, was a shower which yielded some 10 mm of rain on an area of around 25,000 ha. On 24 and 25 February the following year, a cloudburst came down on the Uhlenhorst farming area, with 500 mm of rain pouring down within 48 hours. A huge area was flooded, thousands of sheep and hundreds of cattle drowned. Enormous damage was caused to the infrastructure as well. Speculation about the catastrophe having been caused by rain rockets continues to this day. Rain rockets were a lot less costly than trying to induce rain by plane. The rockets were fired into the clouds from a launch pad on the ground. They exploded at the highest point of their flight path and released their chemicals. If a suitable cloud was hit it took about 15 minutes before it started raining - if it rained at all. Or it rained on a different farm... Defining very exact targets was simply impossible. Some farmers - like Wilhelm Hoff - achieved good results with rain rockets. [...]

This is an excerpt from Gondwana History: Memorable Moments from Namibia's Past, 2nd edition, by Mannfred Goldbeck et al.

Title: Gondwana History: Memorable Moments from Namibia's Past, 2nd edition
Authors: Walter Rusch; Mannfred Goldbeck; Nicolette Jacobie; Iris le Roux; Inke Stoldt; Sven-Eric Kanzler
Series: Gondwana History, Vol 2
Publisher: Nature Investments
Namibia, 2012
ISBN 9789994572540 / ISBN 978-99945-72-54-0
Softcover, 15 x 21 cm, 111 pages, 85 images, 1 map, English text

Rusch, Walter und Goldbeck, Mannfred und Jacobie, Nicolette und le Roux, Iris und Stoldt, Inke und Kanzler, Sven-Eric im Namibiana-Buchangebot

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