National Geographic : 1983 Dec
OTIS IMBODEN YPICALLY, when trouble came, their first thought was of others. Caught in violent updrafts shortly after launch, Maxie Anderson and Don Ida spent pre cious seconds radioing the ground in an attempt to warn fellow balloonists of the danger. Although two other crews had al ready launched, the flight director's decision to delay lift-off more than an hour for the re maining 16 balloons may well have saved lives and prevented injuries. For the two veteran balloonists-Ander son with wife, Patty (above), and Ida (fac ing page, top)-the bicentennial race offered the chance to practice for a cher ished goal: nonstop circumnavigation of the earth by balloon. Anderson had already flown more than a third of the distance some 9,000 miles-in three memorable flights. The first, with teammates Ben Abruzzo and Larry Newman, leaped the Atlantic for the first time by balloon, an accomplishment for which the trio was awarded the National Geographic Society's John Oliver La Gorce Medal. * The second flight, with Anderson's son Kristian, then 23, set another record by crossing North America nonstop.t The third flight, with Don Ida in a balloon chris tened Jules Verne, spanned nearly 3,000 miles, from Luxor, Egypt, to Hansi, India, before a small leak in the gas envelope forced the pair to land just short of a major hurdle, the Himalayas. That was their first attempt at an around-the-world flight. "In time they would have made it around the world," declares Jim Mitchell, a long time crew member and friend. "Neither man knew what it meant to quit." In the race last June, after initially being carried aloft by updrafts, Anderson and Ida flew eastward across France, Luxembourg, and West Germany at altitudes as high as 9,000 feet. Nearing the East German border on the *See "Double Eagle II Has Landed!" by Ben L. Abruzzo, with Maxie L. Anderson and Larry New man, in the December 1978 issue. tThe father-and-son team contributed "Kitty Hawk Floats Across North America," in the August 1980 NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC. 796 r+a NJy t_ '