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November 4, 2016
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April 5, 2000
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Publication Date: 
May 27, 1988
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PDF icon CIA-RDP96-00792R000700480001-8.pdf293.06 KB
~'~\ ~1t7111? ^~1 Appr~o1v~eYFLrR~le~se~0~0%~8~1'L..; ~IA-~~9~-QQ7~2~RgQ,0~0~4.;~.,0001-8 Ultra-Light Fright Flight By Mariah Burton Nelson "' 'M T00 YOUNG to die," said.Larry Fox, another Weekend writer. "You go That's 'how it came about that I flew in a - flimsy, open-cockpit aircraft not with nor- mal trepidation, but with death on my mind. Before liftoff I talked with Bruce Peters, owner of Washington Sky Sports, a compa- ny specializing in tiny, dragonfly-shaped air- craft called Spectrum Ultralights. Peters has 12 years of piloting experience, he as- ': _sured me. Even if the engine goes out, the _ plane can safely glide down. It can land in a . cornfield. "You're in for a treat,? he prom- ised. The day of liftoff we drove to a short run- way behind a southern Maryland trailer park. I wore my aviator shades and my clos- est approximation of a flight jacket; Bruce flight inspection, I did my own. Much to my horror, I saw plane parts fastened with .bun- '~ gee cords, zippers and duct tape. ("Non- essential rts "Bruce explained) Made of Pa Dacron, the wings were sewn in the zig-zag Bruce Peters in an open-cockpit ultra-light plane. stitch I used to use in home ec. Maybe it's longer in my reckless teens or roaring me, but I fmd it difficult to trust an airplane twenties, I have noticed that the more in- constructed on a Singer. tensely I love life, the less romantic I feel To make matters worse, Peters, a about an early death. dimple-cheeked man with the springy step yet I can't play it safe just because cau- of a Muppet, is only 25 years old - whiph, tin1~S rnlleam~Pg and hnmamade airnlaneg - since that's younger than I am, is very a_.. petrify me. "I don t need. to fly because fly- f i 2 T hi years o exper young. urns out s 1 ence ing doesn't frighten me; I need ~ F h or t began on a hang glider at age 13. e to fly even though it frightens past six years he's been performing loops, me," writes Diane Ackerman in stalls, and wingovers in Stearman biplanes On Extended Win s the saga of First we hopped, baby-bird style. Taxi down the runway, nose up, wheels off the ground, wheeee ...and set her down. "Do that again," I said, a child tossed in the air. On >:he second hop, I was grinning like a toothpaste commercial. On the third, we abandoned the earth altogether. I can't speak for Orville Wright, but I'd bet that the first time he soared -not that 12-second, 120-foot skip but his first real flight - he felt, along with elation, another primal feeling: terror. After all, many of his predecessors died in the attempt. Flying is -not natural, despite the ubiquity of flying dreams; anyone with sense should be, at very least, nervous. Flying in an ultralight is like heading toward the heavens on a lounge chair. You're not even in the plane -there is no "in." You're seated, legs outstretched; lean to the right or left and a seatbelt is the only thing keeping you. from your .first and __. last skydive. But it was, indeed, a treat. Cruising di- rectly into the wind at 3,000 feet, I felt sus- pended, motionless, like an Amelia Earhardt actress with a fake earth below. ~Ve peered at the shimmering Potomac, its yardstick bridges, Monopoly neighborhoods. I looked for cornfields, just in case, and spotted in- stead our own shadow, surprisingly beau- tiful as it bumped over trees and houses. My stomach plunked into place as if, after abandoning it on a hundred youthftd Ferns wheel rides, I fmally caught up with it. plate: Vader 1) carefully and confidently, _ Bruce showed me how to turn the plane even slowing to the required 5 mph through ` "and how to keep it level. After a while he the trailer park. He spoke with knowledge put his hands on my shoulders. "Congrat- and humility - a rare combination at any ulations," he said. "You've been flying the age -about weather patterns and the plane for a full minute:' physics of flight. "Don't. you dare have a heart attack." I Before I knew it I was strapped into the answered. dragonfly, head protected by a The truth is, I like to be scared, though I helmet ("If we crash, should I prefer having been scared. So when. we try to land on my head?"), con- touched down, returning to the conspicu- DAYL! f E in Bealton's Flvin~ Circus. My fate was in ,.,,_ r,,,;.,,,,o~~,,.,~ gT? mo .o.,i ,. the hands of a kid who gets his jollies flying 11`1 "yu`s "~?'~~~. ~ ~ llll., .~ui .,o?~age ' . . p _ has to do with keeping one's passion for life u "Today is a good day to die for all the tact, one's curiosity at full stretch, when n one is ally hemmed in by death disease things in my life are present, saihl~.~~i~e~6~~n~31-~~e44~~11~~c~d~d: Horse, which was very evolved of , when it came to the possibility of my etc- it was as good a day to die as any. rh~mm~rt lifo fnr nno ~irhnrno thrill tnrhsr AISn I tn1S1Pi1 Rnlff S?n t}1P WaY tf1 the ~ trol stick between my knees. In ously flat two-dimensional world, I was all fr.,.,t ..f ...o .n~c ~ mntnrrvrla_ci~arl wind- ,,,ao:~ ~,.~;,, - cr~rnfl ~alv - ~n~ nr~tcfnl a..~..a~. v~ua.v .. ..... sii LLll.~' Pij41ia ~wa~u .aui~ uiiu Sa u~~.a ua shield; behind me was Bruce, now elevated` for another risk taken and survived. to the status of savior. "You've got controls .Thanks, Larry. /~-b'ack there too, ~n h7t?" I s ueaked into the 0~ sroN sKV sPORTS offers introductory M~a ~ ~~~~~~~~D~sSo'or $29.95 and promises solo proficiency for control stick in my right hand, the throttle $1,200, which includes an unliuuted member of lessons. in my left, and the modals under my f~~t ~u ultraugnts~re cola for $~,90oxg $rs',0ioo: Contact , nrrr ff 11 IIi.L.6.li Tl~... P~~Gi. one nton.. inn