National Geographic : 1963 Jan
Heaven seemed the right word. It may have been the altitude, or the warmth of the sun, or the absolute silence, but I felt a wonderful sense of ease, of complacency and peace. It was as if we were far out at sea, cut off from the cares of everyday life. Yet, strangely, my feeling was not that we had escaped from reality, but that we had come to it. This was what life should be, what it was meant to be. Here was reality. This must be why, to men like Fred Dolder, the importance of ballooning is not the end- the getting somewhere, farther or higher but rather the means, the flight itself. This feeling of freedom, of utter peacefulness: Here was the essence of this very old sport, and why free balloonists seem a people apart. I came back from my thoughts suddenly. "Ach! Watch out!" said a voice. Older, who was still seated on a sandbag, extracted his foot from beneath my boot. For the fifth time, I had trodden on the pilot's sneakers. "Now I know how that rooster felt," he said with a laugh. I must have looked blank. Sight of Visp, beside the Rhone, Jettisoned scoop of sand checks the balloon's descentas she begins to sink. Valving of gas and dropping of ballast control Bernina's altitude, keeping her in a favorable windstream. Transalpine adventure spanned 100 miles. Winds at take-off pointed the balloon toward Belgium; loftier currents carried her into Italy.