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'It's sort of like flying'

As development chief of the U.S. Army Ballistic Missile Agency in Huntsville, Ala., Wernher von Braun is professionally occupied with the dispatch of objects into the firmament above, but the famous space scientist has found a balancing sporting interest in the waters beneath. In the past four years he has become an accomplished skin-diver.

Dr. Von Braun gravitates downward for the "opportunity to move in three dimensions." He discovered this experience off the California coast when a skin-divers' club outfitted him in flippers and mask, gave him abbreviated basic training and nudged him overboard. Ten minutes later Von Braun had speared a fish.

Since then, when heaven can wait, the doctor practices his sport in California or off the Florida Keys, this past spring burbled down 150 feet in Jamaican waters. And as much as he enjoys spearfishing, Von Braun is even more attracted to the scenery.

"You start with a $2.50 pair of flippers," he said recently, "and wind up with a $750 camera." He is currently trying to submerge that temptation.