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Letters to the Editor

Evel Didn't Panic

A friend of mine handed me a copy of the May 7 issue containing the "Rocket Man" story (Cover Story, May 7). For the record, I am well informed regarding how the X-2 Skycycle failed, since I attended a dinner meeting of the local American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics section (Sacramento) perhaps 10 years ago. The subject was the Skycycle, and the speaker was the curiously named Fag Campoy, an Aerojet Sacramento employee who was one of the Skycycle's principal fabricators.

The short story: for safety and ease of fabrication the Skycycle was powered by (relatively) low-energy steam. The team wanted to perform at least one full-up unmanned test of the Skycycle before Evel's jump; unfortunately the terms and conditions of Evel's contract prohibited launch of the Skycycle before jump day and without Evel on board. The team did manage to get one test off in the middle of the night, but it was not a full up test and it did not identify every issue.

The Skycycle propulsion system performed as designed on launch day. Unfortunately the team missed one small, easily overlooked detail—the air inside the parachute compartment. As the Skycycle accelerated up the rail, the pressure of the now-moving air around the streamlined parachute compartment dropped. The differential pressure between the still air inside the compartment and the moving air outside was enough to break the latches and deploy the parachute while the Skycycle was still on the launch rail. Evel was accused of panicking on launch and hitting his parachute release. Not so.

Perry Stout

Fair Oaks

San Martin Commendation

Re the farm stand story ("Town and Country," MetroNews, May 21): Erin Sherbert did a fine job representing the facts as well as the emotions around this story.

She is to be commended.

Vaughn Hartman

San Martin

Don't Talk With Your Mouth Full

I don't care for the cheap politicizing of everything, even our restaurants.

I almost decided not to go to the Los Altos Grill simply because of Stett Holbrook's rant ( Enough! Can we just enjoy the food?

I will go so as to not punish LAG. But another intro read like this and I will not even care.

Mickey Cook

San Jose

Search Us

Re "The Searcher" (Cover Story, Feb. 27): The film A Dust of Words moved me. I think of Elizabeth Wiltsee as part of the true feminist movement and, as such, sort of the ultimate peripatetic. Thus, she is true to the mystery in these peculiar times, perhaps even an aboriginal facing contemporary views. It was probably the mostly pastoral flavor to her life that contributed to such a vast imbalance, however, although who am I to judge what nature does in imperfect ways to provide for the pool of us, and what do we do with it? I was so impressed and left motivated in ways I was beginning to think were not distillable, with Wiltsee leaving a stylistic ultimate truth about the potential loss of the earth's water (and all that this suggests). Still, the denial contained within the species turned back on all of us, especially in relation to the contemporary canon, is capable of turning off the phenomenon of life at will, and probably largely due to the pirating of water, as such.

Robert Stahl

Birmingham, Ala.

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