Balloon quest is just a lot of hot air

Wednesday, June 19, 2002

"Who really cares if he makes it this time?"

Steve Fossett is at it again. The boosted-ego millionaire investment tycoon from Chicago is trying for the sixth time to fly solo around the world in a balloon. Needless to say, his first five tries ended in failure. Who really cares if he makes it this time?

I've been critical of Fossett before and will repeat that criticism today. Fossett is no modern-day adventurer. He's a rich guy who spends his money in pursuit of adventure when he could be spending that cash on some project that actually means something.

What irks me about Fossett - or anyone of great means who fritters his bucks for the media spotlight - is that his around-the-world adventure is designed only to satisfy his wanderlust. He's not conducting any scientific experiments or advancing world peace or even trying to sow the seeds of goodwill. He just takes his bundles of money to some far-flung region and floats in the air. Then a few days later some unexpected wind gust brings him to earth and the "adventure" is repeated again sometime down the road. What a waste of resources.

Fossett gives all rich white guys a bad reputation. He is exactly what some people expect from tycoons with too much money and too little sense. You applaud someone with the perseverance to achieve a goal but come on Steve, five tries is enough - go spend those bucks on world hunger or cleaning the mean streets of south Chicago.

For those who were unaware of Fossett's latest attempt to circle the globe, you're not alone. Despite his massive fortune, Fossett has garnered little media attention. Like the little boy crying wolf, Fossett has gathered the television cameras five earlier times. At some point, his quest is just stale, old news. Yawn!!!

Steve Fossett may well be a good and fine fellow. He may be kind to his dog and buy Girl Scout cookies by the dozens. But to me at least, Fossett wastes time and energy on a useless adventure instead of doing so much more with his resources. Granted, it's his money and he can do what the heck he wants. But it's my column and I can make fun of him if I want!

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