One Balloon Bomber (Slightly Used)

First it carried a Japanese bomb 5,000 miles across the Pacific. Then it carried Don Piccard across Minneapolis.

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My crew extracted themselves from the White Bear police department and actually had my ground cloth ready for the deflation when I landed—after a quarter-mile drag across the frozen furrows. It was like driving down railroad tracks in that aluminum basket. All the local reporters were there, too. The St. Paul paper got there, but late, after all the others had gone. They did, however, get the best picture: the happy pilot sitting under a tree stuffing angel food cake into his broad victory grin. My father always carried angel food cake on balloon flights—you never knows when you might need it—and had baked one especially for my solo. The press all reported on “The Piccard Flight” and the Daily Times reported on “The Daily Times Flight”. The competing press had morning editions, but the Times was an afternoon paper, so we got scooped by everyone else.

I never flew old Fu-Go again. The FAA refused to issue a registration certificate for her, as I had no bill of sale from the manufacturer. I got my free balloon certificate, though—as well as the distinct thrill of putting a sinister and silent wartime weapon to a slightly more peaceful use. 

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