Just Wind: Tales of Two Pilots Under Pressure
Two pioneer balloonists, Tom Gatch in 1974 and Larry Newman in the early 1990s, led widely reported stratospheric expeditions that nearly earned them a place in aviation history. They both used pressurized balloons, a dangerous and sophisticated type of aircraft, and sought the swift wind of the jet stream to carry them forward.
In the first story, a determined, self-financed and self-reliant Tom Gatch in his Light Heart tries to become the first man to conquer the Atlantic Ocean alone by balloon. Ascending under a 10-balloon cluster, he makes it halfway across before disappearing, and the Department of Defense mounts a massive but futile mid-ocean search. What happened to him? Why did he do it?
In the second story, Larry Newman leads an international crew in Earthwinds, the most expensive and heavily marketed balloon expedition ever undertaken, attempting to become the first to fly around the world non-stop. He often said that his 354-foot tall aircraft was more complicated to fly than the Space Shuttle. He makes three ascents, each with a different crew.
With amusing, anguishing and astonishing frankness, the aeronautical adventures of Light Heart and Earthwinds are presented for the first time from a true insider's perspective.