None of the balloon accidents that I have studied contradict this statement, and the accident so lightly described in your article seems no exception. I comment on the basis of some experience as a balloon pilot instructor, a Federal Aviation Administration designated balloon pilot examiner, a member of the board of directors of the Balloon Federation of America, the recent editor of Ballooning, to which Miss Bruce so often refers, and as the U.S. national hot-air balloon champion pilot.
Fortunately, most balloonists are both sensible and responsible, but sadly we read in your magazine of some exceptions.
Ann Arbor, Mich.
I would like to thank Jeannette Bruce for her excellent article. The spirit of her story was marvelous, and she tells it like it is, so to speak, explaining what ballooning is all about.
Granted ballooning has its serenity, but she has exploded the myth that ballooning is all serenity, and only an inexperienced balloonist could disagree.
Undoubtedly you will receive letters from those self-righteous and self-appointed experts on ballooning who are more interested in their egos than in the sport. They will bombard you with meaningless credentials so as to denigrate Miss Bruce's efforts.
My own opinion is that this is not only the most entertaining story so far on ballooning but also the most informative.
ROBERT L. WALIGUNDA
Balloon Pilots Racing Association
I read with personal interest of Jeannette Bruce's balloon experiences. The day I read the article I had just completed my fifth hour of flight training in a Piccard AX-6, the bitter rival of the craft she took her lessons in, the Raven. I dispute what she has been told about the wicker basket, as I assure you I would now be in the hospital if it were not for the forgiveness of the Piccard basket bouncing around in these frozen farm fields. Believe me, they do not crumble. We hit a farm implement (a disc harrow) the other day at about 15 mph on a touch and go and I have only a few bruises—not to mention a bruised ego—to show for it. Here's hoping we both have smoother landings.
JOHN R. HAGER
Park City Merchants Association
Jeannette Bruce's account of the latest episode in her quest of the infrequently attempted can only be described as a masterpiece. Up, Up and Awry rates with her Himalayan Trek or Treat (June 7, 1971) as an SI classic. No author I have read captures and expands the struggle of the individual to accomplish the unusual, without the proverbial red tape (or 24 stitches), like that fledgling balloonist mountaineer, etc. Keep 'em coming, Jeannette. We of the lion hearts (and chicken livers) have to identify with someone.
Congratulations to Joe Jares for his superb article on the NCAA soccer finals (Nobody Kin Kick Like a Billiken, Jan. 8). His comments on the UCLA (individualistic) and St. Louis (team effort) soccer squads typify the glaring difference between foreign and American players. It seems only fitting that the national champ should be a truly all-American team.
RICHARD H. MUNSON
As a longtime subscriber and reader of SI, I had often wondered at your annual disregard for the impressive record compiled by the St. Louis University soccer team. Its dominance of collegiate soccer for almost 15 years must compare favorably with the UCLA basketball performance.