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September 10, 1976 - Image 13

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1976-09-10

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_ YI e

4.Atlg Aau



Latest Deadline in the State

Section Two

Ann Arbor, Michigan-Friday, September 10, 1976

Page Thirteen

Adrift 'midst the blue






Parachutes, hang-gliders, sailplanes,
kites, - in my loftier moments I fan-
cied myself winging across the coun-
tryside suspended from one of those
exotic aerial creatures. More often
though, I kissed the ground and cher-
ished the security of knowing I'd never
have the means to live out the dream.
Yet, one day this summer, opportunity
did knock. And I soon found myself be-
neath a billowing balloon which from
1000 feet cast its majestic shadow over a
patchwork of midwestern farms and
fields. Ballooning, I discovered, was
more than just a way to get from the
................ :::::.
"Ballooning, I
discovered, was
more than just a
'way to et from
the land of Oz
back to Kansas
-Dorothy never
knew what she
was mitssisng
land of Oz back to Kansas - Dorothy
never knew what she was missing.
STILL, I couldn't blame her if she los
any desire to scale the skies after seeing
the wizard's balloon whisked into the
winds of the upper stratosphere, as
scores of screaming munchkins bade
him adieu forever.
To ease my fretful mind the day of
my great adventure I searched for the
truth about ballooning in the written
word. Perusing a book on the history
of the sport, I only found it littered
with gruesome tales of pioneers turned
human meteors as they plunged to earth
solo . . . their balloons left hinged on
a cloud somewhere.
Jeff VanAlstine, the person who was
going to show me the world from this
new perspective, had been flying bal-
City op
Police, fire and medical assistance
are now only three digits away with
the recent inaugural of Ann Arbor's
special 911 emergency telephone num-
Dialing 911 will now connect local
callers with an emergency police hot-
line system which will dispatch squad
cars, fire fighters or ambulances at a
moment's notice.
system, Police Chief Walter Krasny
said, is that 911 is much easier to re-
member than the old seven-digit num-
And, he pointed out, the quicker peo-
ple can contact the police department,
'These are

loons for nine years. During the ner-
vous eleventh hour before flight time I
tried to remind myself of just that.
But the memory that he, a former aero-
batics pilot, had also set the world
altitude record one week before by skim-
ming the heavens at 41,000 feet, was not
the comfort I was searching for. For all
I knew he was nothing but a thrill-
crazed zombie with no particular at-
tachments to such earthly delights as
being alive.
THAT THURSDAY afternoon, ironic-
ally, was a great day to be alive. The
wind was so soft a leaf couldn't ride
on it and the sky was clear and inviting.
All the odds were in my favor.
No munchkin entourage was at Hud-
son Mills Park to see me off and no
flying monkeys were on hand to pre-
pare the balloon for takeoff. Instead,
about seven enthusiasts including Jeff,
my photographer friend Steve and I
lent our muscle power to the inflation
The propane burners spat flames into
the limp green and yellow nylon sac and
the balloon began to mushroom into
the sky. As the hot air breathed more
and more life into the monster it be-
came harder to control. Relegated to
the tug-of-war post along with three
other peonle I helped direct the bal-
loon into its upright position. Only then
did I begin to feel the power of this
heaven-destined creature.
PUT IT was not yet my turn to be
swet away by this mass of upward
force. Two 14-year-old girls were first
in line - friends of Jeff who were get-
tin{ the $100 balloon ride free as a
sort of delayed Christmas gift. (I shud-
dered when I was informed that the
bulk of the price goes for insurance.)
So I stayed behind to witness the
fi-Qt great uprising from ground level.
The balloon lifted off effortlessly as
thoueh it were a mere soap bubble and
it shrank gradually against the sky as
it climbed.
HOPPING into the car, Steve and I
were off to "track" the balloon from
below - a task reminiscent of trying
to catch a falling leaf. The balloon has
little mind of its own and is ruled ty-
ranically by the wind. Knowing no paved
byways, it sails across fields, lawns and
marshlands. Our temptation was to
cruise along directly below, bulldozing
ts 911 as
the sooner help can be on its way.
Ann Arbor is the first city in Washte-
naw County to adopt the 911 system,
but favorable results have been achieved
in other communities that use the num-
"IT'S A VERY successful system,"
Krasny said, "but it's no better than
the people who are answering the
phone." Specially-trained operators are
on duty 24 hours a day to receive the
Up to 17 lines are available to handle
the emergency requests. Incoming calls
are recorded and can be traced.
But Krasny estimated that only one-
fourth of the emergency callers have
used the 911 number since its start two
weeks ago.

the car through alfalfa rows and rose-
dotted gardens. We took to the roads
nonetheless in an effort to keep a step
ahead of the balloon.
Like an inanimate pied - piper, the
brilliantly colored sphere attracted a
string of followers below, some afoot,
some astride bikes, but most by car.
The scene was replete with horn-honk-
ing, waving policemen and unforget-
table expressions.
"One time in my ballooning career,"
says Jeff who is used to being part of
the spectacle, "I watched a guy (who
was watching the balloon from his mov-
ing car) smash right into the back of
another guy who had his head sticking
out the window like this," he craned
his neck out striking a giraffe-like pose,
"and blam! !" Jeff smacked his hands
together for effect.
SEVERAL miles on, the balloon be-
gan its descent into a bristling field of
corn husk stumps. Abandoning the car
at the side of the road, Steve and I high-
stepped it through to the balloon at a
healthy trot. We arrived on the spot
just in time to anchor the balloon which
was more inclined to cast whimsically
off towards the clouds again.
It was my turn.
Before I could panic and change my,
mind, a helmet was placed on my head
and I climbed into the 4 by 5 wicker
basket. My eyes fixed upward to the
cavernous inside of the balloon, I hard-
ly noticed we'd left the ground. I
searched my emotions for a trace of
fear but found only exhileration as I
watched, in awe, the ground fall out
from beneath my feet.
NOT A whisp of wind brushed my
face, not a tilt of the basket could be
felt. This was not the roller coaster ride
I'd anticipated, not even the likes of an
elevator ride designed to transplant my
stomach into my throat. This was as
tranquil as I'd imagined a trip on cloud
nine to be.
"The serenity is the great part of it,"
Jeff began as I, the city kid, leaned
over the side of the basket to marvel
at the rustic farmland.
"You see, the balloon is moving in
the great mass of air. It can't go any
faster or slower than the air goes . . .
consequently we're always in the calm
and the little breeze you feel is the
change in the direction in the wind."
See HOT, Page 17


Doily Photo by KEN FINK
A lofty fantasy
Rural folks miss post office

RANDOLPH, N.H. (P)-Charles Lowe
slapped the last coat of silver paint on
the wooden frame of his father's new
roadside mail box.
"You'll have the best mail box in
town," he quipped as the elderly Lowe
strolled across the highway that cuts
through this pine- and spruce-covered
mountain village of 285 year-round resi-
BUT GLENN LOWE, who at age 80 had
been getting his mail for as long as he
can remember from the town's post office

at the old Wood Farm down the road,
was not impressed.
"I don't like it a bit," he snapped, the
anger aimed not at the new silver mail
box, but at the U.S. Postal Service in
far off Washington.
Like thoisands of residents of rural
America, the people of Randolph re-
cently lost their post office, where for
nearly 125 years they picked up their
mail, exchanged gossip, and sold house-
hold odds and ends through the office
bulletin board.
THE MOVE against the rural post
offices is part of what Postmaster Gen-
eral Benjamin Bailer has called a policy
"of e:onomic reality" prompted by the
Postal Service's rising deficit.
The Postal Service has earmarked 2,000
small post offices for closing this year.
Of those, nearly 200 already have been
closed. Further shutdowns have been
"suspended" because Congress is de- t
bating a $1-billion postal subsidy pro-
gram. A postal bill has been passed by
the Senate and awaits action in the House
this week. But a postal spokesperson says
"We are not stopping the (closing)
orogram altogether."
The question, says Bailar is "do we
need 40,000 post offices."

traditional concepts of mail service to
see if they still have value in modern
America," Bailar said in March. "The
public . . . niust either pay the growing
price or be willing to give up something."
So hundreds of post offices are disap-
pegring from the landscape in towns
such as Lula, Fla., Eva, Okla., Mud
Lick, Ky., and Mud Butte, S.D., as well
as Jumbo, Okla., Roscoe, Neb., Lemons,
Mo., 'Mexican Hut, Utah, and Grit, Tex.
Other towns-Sunflower, Ala., Fish
Camp, Calif., Antelope, Kan., Pony,
Mont., Pelican, La., and Devils Tower,
Wyo., to name a few-are under con-
sideration for having their post offices
GOVERNMENT regulation prohibits the
closings simply because the post office#
are running a deficit, but the shutdowns
concern dollars and cents.
In Randolph, for example, the post
office-which opened in 1852 on the old
Wood Farm at one end of town-cost
S17,579 to operate last year while taking
in only $7,000. A new rural route system
is expected to cost $3,000.
So Glen Lowe watched his son put up
the new rural mail box, and he wondered
aloud whether it would withstand the
hard winters of the White Mountains,
whether even in New Hampshire's North

emergency number

becoming more oriented to the number,"
he said, adding that he hopes when
the next telephone directories are is-
sued residents will become more aware
of the changeover.
With the new. system available, stu-
dents living in residence halls now have
the option of dialing either 911 or the
campus security department if an emerg-
ency arises.
But University and police officials are
divided over which number siouid o
WALTER STEVENS, assistant direc-
tor of the University's safety depart-
ment, recommends that students call
his bureau in the event of an emerg-
ency. If the problem does fall within

the University's jurisdiction it can be
quickly referred to appropriate authori-
Students can dial the University's
emergency number, 123, from most Cen-
trex phones, except those in individual
dormitory rooms. From those phones,
students must dial a five-digit number,
To contact the city's police depart-
ment from a Centrex phone, thetcaller
must first dial the number 9 to get

an outside line, followed by 911. "I BELIEVE WE must re-evaluate See RURAL, Page 14


the space shutt

WASHINGTON (AP)- Star Trek fans
have apparently shot a photon torpedo
into the government's choice of a name
for the country's new space shuttle.
The National Aeronautics and Space
Administration (NASA) had suggested
the name of "the Constitution" and had
even planned to unveil the shuttle or-
biter on Sept. 17, Constitution Day.
BUT STAR TREK fans initiated a
lttr-wrAitinfC camnaicn to President

tial to the nameI
that he had served ii
a Navy ship that ser
craft carrier of tha
There also was son
ing the spacecraft
cause the venture
effort in which sev
participate. Any Tre
of course, can tell
stitution is also the
starshin in the seri

voyages of
le Enterprise'
Enterprise," adding It was the second time that a Star
n the Pacific aboard Trek letter-writing campaign had per-
viced an earlier air- suaded the powers. that be to amend
t name. their decision-making. A flood of mail
ne objection to nam- to NBC executives in 1968 forced the
"Constitution," be- network to renew the series for a third
is an international season - after they had intended to
veral countries will cancel it.
kker worth his salt, A Star Trek cult has mushroomed
you that The Con- across the country, with the formation
e name of another of clubs and members who speak end-
es' fleet. lpclyof nhars rannonsl Klingons

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