I read your post to the balloon maillist several days ago and have been trying to find
the time to respond.
I am the brother of one of the pilots that was shot down. Please understand that I in
no way blame the people of Belarus for this tragedy. The cold war still exists in the
minds of many people and it is this mentality that caused this to happen. Mistrust was the
Perhaps this event will be a way for people to understand that the time has finally
come to put aside their fears and understand that the relations between countries can be
one where trust and honesty is the normal way. The United States and Belarus have
maintained friendly relationships since the dissolution of the Soviet Union and we should
not use this tragic event as an excuse to go back to the way it used to be.
I want you to know that I have stated on the balloon maillist and in other places that
the call for expelling Belarussian sports persons from international competitions is
uncalled for. These people are not to be blamed for the mistakes of a few in the military
or the government.
I have had the opportunity to talk with ordinary persons on the streets, if only to ask
directions, and I was always impressed that they were willing to help. I was never
detained nor treated harshly by anyone. I had the proper visa and was allowed to go about
my own business freely.
It is my families hope that because of the death of Alan and John something positive
will come from this incident.
I must thank you for your work on the Belarus pages. I am a balloonist who lost two
friends in the incident last week, looking for answers. Your thoughtful presentation may
go a long ways toward normalizing relationships.
I don't think any politician can achieve what you are trying to do, it's best left to
the common people to make a common bond. I wish you the best.
Thank you for showing us the opposite side. I do not envy the citizens of Belarus
coming to grips with 'freedom' from the USSR and communist regime. Their times have been,
are and will continue to be difficult for some time I guess. I hope the country find the
road to peace (unlike Bosnia)
When the tragedy happened, (and as a public servant myself) I said to my partner I bet some clerk somewhere hasn't handed the information on or made the appropriate phone calls, and there's been a serious communication breakdown. There is really no excuse for the Public Servants and the Military not to be in close communication especially when something is about to happen that may challenge expectations particularly in possible Military reactions like this one. But that's not your fault nor that the general population. Please be aware that, t is not the general population the ballooning community is angry with - just the authorities.
About the later information required by the Belarussian authorities in June, well
hopefully that will come out in the inquiry (that information is similar to TAS newspaper
press release - I don't trust politicans or the press).
My confusion comes from the information that the Civil Aviation authorities were in
continuous contact with the pilots of the other 2 balloons (even if they were speaking
Russian), one of those balloons was in sight of the 'downed' balloon most of the morning
in question, and a posted description of the 'downed' balloon doesn't match what has come
out of Belarus.
This is just my view from the other side of the world based on the many and varied
posts on the subject. I am not asking you to comment on this, I wouldn't be so horrible as
to put you in that position. I have kept all the mail so that when I have time I can go
back an print copies of all the posts and highlight the discrepancies. There are heaps.
I am pleased that you have spoken up for your country because it brings back to us the
fact that there are always two sides to every story and we are all human and have the same
kink of feelings and reactions no matter what our creed, colour or race.
If you live in ABQ or are to be at the fiesta in the early days, I hope I get to meet
Dawn Lukeman (Australia)
Thank you for giving us all your perspective on the shooting down of the Baloon Pilots
There is so much suffering and grief in this world, so much insanity. This incident is
another example. My reaction was one of disbelief and sorrow for the pilots, their
families, and friends. I felt the killing must be a tragic mistake, some horrible
misunderstanding. My guess, from what I've read from different sources is that it indeed
was just that.
I for one do not wish to ever experience a war, cold or otherwise. I wish nations and
people to live in peace and harmony. I hope as nations move away from their oppressive
histories that we will see more global cooperation and that such tragedies as this
senseless killing will too fade into the past.
Thank you for your fine letter.
Please understand that the anger and hostility of many U.S. balloonists and others is
partly the result of assumptions we make based on how our own government and military
operate. I believe that most of 'us' understand (or will eventually come to accept) that
this terrible disaster was partly the result of errors, and was really not intended by
more than a very few people. There is still much work to be done in our world to help all
people to understand that we share many common dreams, that we share many common fears,
and that the best way to make any progress is through peaceful co-operation.
Please keep us informed of the public opinions of Belarus, and any new developments there.
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