Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Falling, Falling, Fun

In my younger days in the real world I used to jump out of perfectly serviceable aircraft just for the sheer fun of it. And the risk, of course. Young chaps can be quite lunatic like that. Of course one did and does have to be sensible about it. It is useful to have a parachute.
Back in my day it was a 'roundy': the standard military 'chute. With such ungainly beasts which allowed the bare minimum of control, I even made it into  the Guiness Book of Records, just for a few weeks, by being in a team that made a new Record in Cyprus. We pushed the old 16,000' one up to 21,500'.  Before it could make it to the printer's another team, of Swedes - members of a UN Peace-keeper mob, went a couple of hundred feet higher. Bugger !

The tale was related to another bunch of skydivers some years ago when I took a balloon trip in the Yarra Valley. They joined my early morning (started in the dark) jaunt and to my astonishment were going to jump despite the cloud cover.  They were amused that there was someone still alive who had jumped with a roundy; not like their more up-to-date, all-singing, all-dancing 'wings'. The clouds would burn off in the morning sun.... they said. It didn't. They jumped in cloud. 


Talking of 'old', even back in the WW2 days parachuting was a dangerous way to find a battlefield. Many a tale can be told of horrendous feats of bravery, foolhardiness, and of course, disaster. And even the planes were 'old'. New for the day perhaps but not quite the standard we expect today. Most of those planes were not designed with paratroopers first in mind either. 

A group recently put an old and well restored B-17 Bomber to good but unusual use by dropping themselves from the bomb-bay. What a way to go !! 
Just fantastic. 

I wish I were younger.  I would love to have done that !

OK. All those in the U.S. Bar, stand and Salute !

One of the guys said:

A unique experience of jumping through the bomb bay doors of a B-17 in flight in January of 2013 at Zephyrhills Airport, Florida, and the drop zone Skydive City. 
Only 6, out of 12,700+ produced, still actively fly, so being able to ride in one, much less do a skydive from the bomb bay doors, is a rare experience. 
Typical 'experience' flights are ~$425-$450 as these aircraft are very expensive to run and maintain. 
Special thanks to Collings Foundation for continue to display this and other aircraft to the public. Thousands of volunteer hours are put into this project so to help use remember a bit of history. The crew on this flight were very accommodating and great. I loved the whole experience.

There are those who push their luck.  Like Luke Aikins who decided to give a jump a go without a 'chute at all ! Reaching speeds of almost 200km/h, American Luke survived a jump from 25000 feet without a 'chute to his name. Deliberately. He did have a net organised but from 25,000 he would have been hard pressed to see it until up close.

Fine chap, and lucky. OK, he planned well. He trained well.  He did well.

A great deal of planning and a lot of confidence in one's mates are needed for the sort of games one can get up to (fall down to?). Down is the operative word when a whole bunch of daredevils go up to come down. One person makes a mistake and the whole lot can come tumbling down instead of flying gracefully under canopy. 

But the highest accolade has been given to Felix Baumgartner who jumped from Space. 

And he broke the sound barrier doing it. 

He went by balloon too. 

After flying to an altitude of 39,045 meters (128,100 feet) in a helium-filled balloon, Felix completed a record breaking jump for the ages from the edge of space, exactly 65 years after Chuck Yeager first broke the sound barrier flying in an experimental rocket-powered airplane.

As I said. Nuts. Or should that be 'balls' ?

But what if you do not have all the hi-tech stuff at hand. Just a mate with a no-engine plane? A glider. You could do as this fine chap did and ride the wing until you fall off.

But that's blokes for you.




  1. In my opinion definitely Nuts!!

    But then I am gal ;-)

  2. There's nothing like the exhilaration felt as you leap out of a perfectly good airplane only to free fall prior to pulling the rip cord. It's a blast, wish I could do it again.

    1. Ahha, the voice of experience. So, Major, you are young, fit and healthy. What is stopping you ? (apart from work, family, time, everyone around you telling you not to do it) :) May I suggest that once a year you ask your good lady for an 'experience' instead of a present. A para jump: chop down a big tree under the guidance of an expert; do that steer-riding at the rodeo that you always wanted to do; go to a political rally and shout at the politician "Hey, liar, your pants are on fire " Hahahaha.

    2. My lovely lady thought that was pretty funny, especially the shouting at the politician part.


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