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Valley Perspective

Lofty Ambitions

June 08, 1997

Why? That's the logical first question one might ask upon hearing George Heaven's dream. Heaven is a respected aeronautical engineer and designer trying mightily to build a rubber-band-powered airplane. And not one of those little balsa-wood jobs, either--one big enough and strong enough to carry people.

Why? The whole thing started as a radio stunt. A couple of deejays wanted a creative way to fly a Bob's Big Boy statue across the Grand Canyon, and they recruited Heaven. The deejays lost interest after several months, but Heaven was hooked. And the "Rubber Bandit," as the creation came to be called, began to take shape in a hangar at Van Nuys Airport. To date, the project has cost Heaven $150,000 but has virtually no commercial prospects.

Why? For Heaven, it's the thrill of the new, the challenge of accomplishing something most reasonable folks thought was impossible--or simply crazy. If Heaven gets his contraption in the air, he will join the ranks of countless discoverers who refused to let others tether their dreams. What drives Heaven is what drove Sir Edmund Hillary to climb to the top of the world and drove Albert Einstein to explore the intricacies of matter. It's what propels humankind forward through history--and sometimes knocks us back a little bit: the simple joy of discovery, the thrill of exploring the unexplored, knowing the unknown and charting the uncharted.

Curious minds like Heaven's see the unconquered territories--whether a towering peak, a ray of light or a plane powered by rubber bands--and ask not "Why?" but "Why not?"

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