Jane, if you're reading this, let me just say, by way of sincere personal apology, that it was Bill's fault.
The thing is, Bill's rubber band was nothing compared with the one that will power George Heaven's Rubber Bandit. If that one were to snap when fully wound, in the words of Rubber Bandit crew chief Tom Beardsley, ``it has the potential to kill someone.''
Then there is the whole question of what will happen if the Rubber Bandit -- with Heaven sitting on a tiny seat hanging below the fuselage, between the wheels -- actually takes off. I keep thinking about all the balsa model planes I had when I was a boy. I'd wind the propeller until my finger was sore, then I'd set the plane down on the street, let the prop go and watch as the plane surged forward, became airborne, and then -- guided by some unerring homing instinct that balsa apparently possesses -- crashed into the nearest available object and broke into small pieces.
I discussed this with Heaven, who nodded the nod of a man who has heard it all many times. He told me he was not worried at all.
''You're out of your mind,'' I said.
''I know it,'' he said.
So there you have it: A Guy On A Mission. Heaven (who looks and sounds a little like the late Robert Mitchum, although he denies this) hopes to make his historic flight around the end of August. He's trying to raise money so that he and his crew can finish the Rubber Bandit. Naturally you are wondering if he has approached the Trojan condom company about a sponsorship; the answer is yes, he did, and -- incredibly -- Trojan turned him down.
But he and his volunteers have been working on this project for two years, and I don't think they're going to quit. So keep an eye out for news on the Rubber Bandit. If you live near Van Nuys, you should also keep an ear out, and if you hear a really loud twanging sound, duck.