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Lynda W. Sparks ©Stars and StripesMerano, Italy, July, 1986: A fisheye lens provides a unique view of hot-air balloons being prepared for launch at an international meet in Merano. Balloonists from Italy, Germany and Switzerland were on hand, but due to high winds and rugged Alpine terrain they decided to stay on the ground and avoid risking thousands of dollars of equipment ... and possibly their lives. "Sure we could go up," said Italian pilot Paolo Contegiacomo, "but where would we come down? There is no steering these things. You go with the wind ... and at the moment, the wind is blowing into the side of the Alps."


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