Your report on the world soaring championships (Red Baron in the Wild Blue Yonder, July 13) made many of the U.S. soaring fraternity fighting mad. As you stated, the competition was to determine two champions—standard class (sailplane wingspan limited to 49.4 feet) and open class (ship with unlimited wingspan). Each class competed over a two-week period on different assigned tasks each day. George Moffat of the U.S. was the top man in the open class. Helmut Reichmann of Germany won the standard-class championship.
But Robert F. Jones said that Reichmann outflew them all, including Moffat. It is difficult to understand how the author came up with this conclusion. The fact that Reichmann's score (8,663 points) was higher than Moffat's (8,323 points) has absolutely no relationship, because points were not scored between the two classes. We who are deeply involved in soaring would hesitate to determine whose performance was best. It is like comparing apples to potatoes.
Moffat is the World Open Class Soaring Champion, and he is an American. We in the U.S. should be really proud of this accomplishment. I think SI should have given him a real pat on the back.
Schweizer Aircraft Corp.
I would like to thank you for the article on drag racing (Speed to Bum, Baby, Burn, July 27). Although drag racing has been receiving more coverage from the press, many people still misunderstand what it is. Thanks to your article, I'm sure many people have been set straight about this sport.
PROPER MEASURES (CONT.)
Your article Funny Ball, Funny Bounces (July 20) by Herman Weiskopf is clearly the best that has come along on the characteristics of the major-league baseball and how the game is affected. I hope that the article inspires greater consistency and control in the manufacture of the baseball.
My interest in the game has extended to comparing fence distances and heights of major-league ball parks in terms of home runs that would be expected. This led necessarily to climatological factors, and we dropped baseballs from a little higher and photographed the bounce with a movie camera. The results obtained were consistent with those in your article.
As a matter of companion interest, your article mentions that high humidity during the game will curtail the flight of batted balls. I'm sure you mean this happens because of the effect of humidity on the resiliency of the ball itself. However, a lot of people also feel that high humidity or high proportions of water vapor in the air tend to slow down the flight of the ball. On this point my research has indicated that dry air is actually more dense than air containing large amounts of water vapor such as would be characteristic of high humidity. This pertains up to the point of any precipitation such as mist, fog or rain—which would naturally slow down the ball. However, the difference in a ball passing through dry air (low humidity) in contrast to high humidity is extremely small. So when the ball does not go far because of humidity, it is only because of moisture acting on the ball itself, as you describe in your article.
ROBERT H. KINGSLEY
Short though it was, your article on the great Jim Hall (Box? Bar of Soap? No, It's a Car, July 20) was the best of its kind I have read in your magazine in at least a year.
I think Jim Hall's new vacuum 2J is the best new idea for racing since the turbine cars. Let's hope the Chaparral 2J doesn't end up sitting uselessly in a museum like the turbines.
I was very pleased to see your July 6 cover picture of George Frenn. Your story on George a few months back was also very good, although you failed to mention many of his accomplishments. In addition to being a fine hammer thrower, George holds the American records for the 35-pound and 56-pound weight throw. George is also a very devoted weight lifter. Last May he exceeded the records in the 24�-pound class for the squat (770 pounds) and the dead lift (775 pounds). As far as I know, George's total in these two lifts is more than any man has ever moved in two lifts, even men weighing as much as 100 pounds more in the next higher class.