BOB SPARKS AND HIS CREW CHIEF ... AN UNEXPECTED PASSENGER IN HIS BALLOON WHEN IT?
It was a festive evening at the New Seabury Country Club on Cape Cod.
The crowd gathered to see Robert Sparks begin a solo journey in his balloon ... across the atlantic to Europe.
This solo flight was something Sparks has always wanted to do ... even though he's been up in a balloon 700-times.
TRANSCRIPT: BOB SPARKS: "I've never said I wanted to be first,I want to do is fly a balloon across the Atlantic."
So, it was off to the Gondola and Balloon and a ride into the moonlit sky ...
"Mister Sparks, I have a nice sandwich for you."
But then, as the craft, called the odyssey, lifted off, the solo number suddenly became a duet.
Following a plan he had made earlier, ground chief Hadden Wood grabbed a trailing rope and was lifted off the ground. Wood left behind a letter, saying he could help Sparks if there were trouble.
Wood dangled for an hour before Sparks pulled him aboard. The startled ground crew made radio contact ... and Sparks reportedly said he was surprised, but not angry.
But the flight director was angry. If he had known of then plan, he said, he would have buried Wood forty feet deep.
But when balloon started to ditch ... it was a leak, according to Sparks, not the stowaway, the stowaway, that brought the odyssey down.
Bob Jamieson, NBC News.
VOICE OVER NIGHT SHOTS MS BALLOON BOTTOM AND GONDOLA, SHOTS CROWD, SHOTS SPARKS, BUEE BIT OF SOF FROM SPARKS ABOUT REASONS FOR ATTEMPT, SPARKS EMBRACED BY GIRLFRIEND 50F MAN IN CHIEFEEEE CHEFS OUTFIT SAYING HE HAD PREPARED SPECIAL SANDWICH FOR SPARKS, BALLOON LIFTS OFF CARRYING LARGE USA FLAG, PULL BACK TO TRAILING ROPE (THEN TO STILL SHOTS CREWMAN ON HANGING ROPE) THEN TO VOICE OVER SHOTS MAN ON RADIO TALKING WITH SPARKS.
REPORTER: BOB JAMIESON GEE
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: BOB SPARKS AND HIS CREW CHIEF ... AN UNEXPECTED PASSENGER IN HIS BALLOON WHEN IT TOOK OFF EARLY THURSDAY MORNING ON A TRANSATLANTIC CROSSING ATTEMPT ... ABORTED THEIR FLIGHT EARLY THURSDAY NIGHT WHEN THEIR BAG SPRANG A LEAK. IT WAS SPARK'S SECOND ABORTED FLIGHT, AND THE SECOND TIME HE ENDED UP IN THE DRINK.