Yes, hot air ballooning is a dangerous and extreme activity!
Many of us woke Monday morning to the story and video of Luke Aikins, the skydiver that became the first man to jump from 25,000 feet — without a parachute — and live to tell the tale.
Most of us missed the story two weeks ago of Mick Fanning, the professional surfer that returned to site where, last year, he was attacked by a shark. This time around, he won the tournament!
Tragically, most of us caught the story from Texas where 16 people lost their lives in a hot air balloon accident.
I mention all of these together because, well, I think they are all similar. Everyone that has been mentioned was taking part in life risking behavior. Period.
Aikins risks his life for a living. He’s a stuntman, base jumper and pilot. If he had missed the 100-foot-by-100-foot net, he would be dead. We would have shrugged our shoulders and thought, “What do you expect? He jumped out of a perfectly good airplane without a chute.”
Fanning knows that there are sharks in the ocean — lots of sharks. He knows that he is an eco-tourist when he is in the water and he is no longer the top of the food chain.
Once again, if Fanning had been attacked a second time we would have thought, “What do you expect? He went back to the same place he was attacked. It was probably the same shark!”
So why not hot air ballooning? Why don’t we see that as an extreme activity? Why is it shocking and tragic when things go wrong?
Think about it. What is more dangerous: Surfing in the same waters that we let our kids play in while on vacation or jumping out of a plane with no parachute? No-brainer, right?
Now, what is crazier: Jumping out of a plane with no parachute as a professional stunt man after 1,000 practice runs or sailing along at more than 3,000 feet in a canvas balloon that is fueled by FIRE while huddling into a wicker basket while wearing no parachute?
When you look at it for what it is, hot air balloon rides seem kind of risky to say the least.
I’m not saying that anyone deserved to die. Heck, I don’t think skydivers and base jumpers deserve to die. I’m just saying that participants in everything from hang-gliding to yes, hot air ballooning, should realize and accept the risk.