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Give the first and best. The goal is to be reached at any cost. On August 11, 1978, Double Eagle II, a large helium balloon, and her crew of three, eased into an almost windless sky above the potato fields of Maine. Their destination was Paris, France. The aerodynamics of ballooning are somewhat complex, but one thing is certain. In order for the balloon to stay aloft as the journey progresses, ballast (that which is used to add weight) has to be expelled.


As they approached continental Europe six days later, one of the crew wrote, “We have been expending ballast wisely, but as we neared land, not cheaply . . . over went such gear as tape recorders, radios, film, magazines, sleeping bags, lawn chairs, most of our water, food, and the cooler it was in.” They paid the price to accomplish their goal.