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Tigers' Gibson Reaches New Heights

March 20, 1987|United Press International

LAKELAND, Fla. — Kirk Gibson scored Thursday, and he didn't even have to slide.

The Detroit Tigers' slugging right fielder hit aviation's equivalent of a World Series home run, setting an unofficial altitude record for planes in his class.

Gibson, a student pilot, and partner Bob Lark took a Cessna 206 some 25,200 feet above Lakeland Municipal Airport, more than 5,000 feet higher than the previous record, and not quite as high as Lark wanted.

"We didn't know what to expect," Gibson said after shaking hands with Lark on the runway after the flight. "We didn't expect any problems and we didn't have any problems.

"The aircraft performed great, the oxygen worked great. When we got up there, Bob wanted to go higher, but we had said 25,000 so that's what we stayed at."

To attempt the record, Gibson asked Detroit Manager Sparky Anderson for a day off from spring training. Anderson granted it, even kidding his right fielder to climb "until I couldn't get any more oxygen."

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