SI Vault
Edited by Robert Sullivan
May 19, 1986
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May 19, 1986


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This came over the Associated Press wire last Friday: "A Federal Court jury will be asked to determine the future of professional football in America when the USFL's $1.32 antitrust suit against the NFL goes to trial next week."

Howard Cosell made his debut as a twice-weekly syndicated newspaper columnist on May 4, and we couldn't help noticing that in the eight-paragraph inaugural column he referred to himself 37 times (23 I's, seven my's, three Cosell's, two myself's, two me's) and compared himself to Sisyphus. In his second column, Cosell mentioned himself only 10 times, which seemed awfully early for him to be going into a slump.


You might say Jim Will celebrates anniversaries with a certain loftiness. Last year, to commemorate the 25th year of statehood for his native Hawaii, he flew an ultralight plane 500 miles, island-hopping the length of the chain. "What a feeling that was, flying across the ocean," he says. "When I flew from the big island [ Hawaii], I went right by where [Charles] Lindbergh is buried. It was tremendous."

Next Wednesday, May 21, Will plans to honor the 59th anniversary of Lindbergh's historic 33�-hour transatlantic crossing in the Spirit of St. Louis by stepping off a 1,200-foot oceanside cliff in Makapuu, Hawaii with his hang glider and staying aloft for the next 33� hours—nine hours longer than the current hang-gliding endurance record, which Will set in 1981. "The winds come in off the ocean there and hit the cliffs," he says. "You step off and boom! You go up 150...200...300 feet—just like an elevator ride. Then I'll just glide over the most beautiful island, the place where Lindbergh spent his final days."

Will, 37, from Honolulu, a jewelry designer by trade, will be in a 65-pound hang glider, the type he has flown for six of his 12 years in the sport. It has a cocoon-style harness in which Will lies and attachments to carry food (mostly fruit and pita bread), water and radios. For this flight, it will also be decked out with a magnetic-beam warning system. If Will becomes groggy and his hands stray more than four inches off position on the steering bar, the beam will set off an electronic wake-up buzzer in Will's ear. "With this glider and my special safety equipment I've test-flown in 30-mile-per-hour winds," he says. "The equipment will come through." Just in case Will himself doesn't, a nine-member ground crew will follow his progress and alert him by radio if it sees any signs of fatigue.

"The hallucinations should start at about 18 or 19 hours," says Will, who plans to drink ginseng tea to help him keep awake as he circles over the ocean. "But the way I have it planned, when I hit 24 hours I'll be flying into a beautiful sunrise." This, he hopes, will further perk him up.

Will, who claims to be "a land lover at heart," downplays the danger of his flight, but the U.S. Hang Gliding Association frowns on all such endurance stunts as unnecessarily dangerous. "This is not like flagpole sitting—you have to be alert to stay airborne," says USHGA executive director Cindy Brickner. Will, however, expects he'll suffer nothing worse than aches and pains due to the strains of keeping his body rigid in its harness for nearly a day and a half.

"I'll be landing on a nice, beautiful, white, sandy Hawaiian beach, with palm trees blowing in the background," he says. You'll recall that Lindbergh made his crossing on five sandwiches and a quart of water, and, despite bad weather, set down safely on a grassy French airfield.

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