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Heirs to the great tradition of venture are the innumerable citizens who attempt to master the sports of hazard. Some are athletes, some may be "soft Americans" (physically), but all of them are nonconformists who give dramatic expression to the zest for living that flows down from our history

Salesman William McBeth rides a wave off the Jersey coast" "Every wave is different," he says, summing up the credo of the adventurers

Eleanor Vadala, a Philadelphia chemist, began ballooning when some friends asked her to come along for a ride. This fall she soloed (above). After an hour and 20 minutes in the air she landed expertly in Haverford, Pa.

Colorado Insurance Agent Edmund Pacheco has been scaling such dizzy escarpments as the headwall of Longs Peak (right) for nearly 30 years. He says he can't remember anything unusual ever happening on a climb

When he isn't working at Bendix as a designer, Robert B. Count (left, at 2,000 feet in a 1-26 sailplane) is an imperturbable glider pilot. He began soaring three yeans ago, now sails the air on almost every weekend of good weather at Elmira, N.Y.

With veteran canoeist Bob Harrigan guiding the plunging craft, bowman Tony Oldham gets a rugged baptism during his first white-water run—which, despite appearances, was successful—through the Little Falls of the Potomac River

Lindsey Parsons, a Trenton, N.J. stockbroker, began acrobatic flying three years ago. In the world championships in Budapest last July he placed fifth among pilots of nine countries

An engineer with the TVA, Leonard Munson, 47, has been exploring caves as a hobby for a decade. At left, he appears in his favorite locale, the depths of Cumberland Caverns

George McGulloch, 57, Commissioner of Urban Improvement for Syracuse (see cover), improves his morale by sky-diving: "A great relief from the pressures of my job," he said happily, before plummeting out of the door