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A Simple Hose Clamp Causes Failure of Balloon’s Attempt to Circle the Earth

Piccard and Richard Conniff writes in National Geographic that on January 12, 1997, two Swiss men, Bertrand Piccard and Wim Verstraeten, set out to be the first to CIRCLE THE EARTH in a balloon. Their aircraft was called the Breitling Orbiter, and it was high-tech masterpiece, complete with solar power panels and an airtight capsule for pressurized flight at high altitudes that would enable them to fly the jet stream at two hundred miles and hour. Price tag: $1.5 million.

Shortly after liftoff, however, calamity struck. With the cabin sealed tight and pressurized, the pilots suddenly noticed strong kerosene fumes.

Soon they e-mailed their control center: "Kerosene’s coming through each pipe on both inside tanks and we cannot tighten them any more. It is a nightmare....Answer quick."

They were advised to lower their altitude, open the capsule, and hold on until they could reach the coast of Algeria. The fumes proved overwhelming, however, and they were forced to ditch in the Mediterranean and lost the craft.

The cause of the kerosene leak? A clamp, like those used on an automobile radiator hose, had failed. Price tag: $1.16.

It doesn’t take much to undermine a great enterprise.

God intends that the Christian life be a triumphant journey, but often we allow small things like our tongue to scuttle God’s grand plan for us.

From a sermon by Dennis Davidson, Taming The Tongue, 11/9/2009

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