The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on November 24, 1968 · Page 33
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The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 33

West Palm Beach, Florida
Issue Date:
Sunday, November 24, 1968
Page 33
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Page 33 article text (OCR)

:& Post-Times ftf A SECTION C FOR HfoMEN SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 24. 1968 - 18 PAGES The Art Of Falling. . .For Fun v 17 m ml f By DIEDRA VAN DUZEE Staff Writer In 1940 the first parachute wedding was held. The minister, bride, bridegroom, best man, maid of honor, and four musicians jumped over the New York World's Fair and the ceremony was performed on the way down. Marriage is not the kind of airborne hookup most skydivers contemplate however. But, "hookup" is one of the favorite words of the people who jump out of airplanes at the Circle T Ranch in Indiantown, home of South Florida Parachutes Inc. The kind of hookup they think about is a feat exciting to accomplish and watch. Several skydivers leave the plane, one right after another. They freefall and by moving their arms and legs maneuver until they are within reach of each other. They link hands, form a star and freefall together for a few seconds before separating and pulling their ripcords. One of the largest hookups ever achieved consisted of 11 men. Some people go to church on Sunday, some sleep late, and read the paper, others dive through clouds. A typical Sunday crowd at Circle T includes two goats, two dogs, at least one cat, several little girls, several big girls, sky diving observers, and of course, the sky divers. Typical sounds are the pop of pop top beer cans, the hum of the plane, jokes, good natured bantering and continual discussion about hookups, parachutes, landing, anything and everything related to skydiving. Now that Paul J. Poppenhager, owner of the Circle T, is getting a new plane wtih room for 10 all discussion centers around 10-man hookups. For all the beer and banter the minute the red plane swoops in to pick up the next load of chutists the atmosphere becomes similar to a red alert. Hastily, the next jumpers pull on their suits and struggle into the parachute straps. Jouncing DIVING INTO A HOOKUP - This is an exciting feat to accomplish, as well as watch. More and more, skydiving draws spectators. Photos By Ken McClellan THE JUMP Bob "Flash" Gordon awaits his turn as Frank Blank jumps from the plane. and twisting they look like chubby girls struggling into girdles. They grab their helmets and run out to the plane to climb aboard. Soon the plane is circling upward to 7200 feet. The observers on the ground now and again lose sight of it behind a cloud or in the flash of the sun. No one pays much attention until the engine sound changes and slows, then it's eyes on the sky! Like cinders falling past billowing white sheets on a clothesline the four men fell past the fluffy pink cloud bank 7000 feet in the air. But they were 7000 feet up for only a particle of time, falling, turning, falling, maneuvering together, falling, touching hands, falling. Whoompf ! a welcome jerk, and the men suddenly looked like mushrooms popping up after rain. No longer streaking downward the men were now UP HERE, THE WORLD IS BLUE - Grant Smtih a fireman at the Palm Beach International Airport from Lake Worth, arches in proper free-fall form. 1 -TVv d "ST.,. : J ! A VPs 4:. A SKYDIVER A member of the South Florida Parachutes, Inc., is a study in serenity to be envied ... almost. lazily hovering and drifting. A Volkswagen bus bumped over the pasture to the target area to pick up the grounded jumpers. Sport parachutists are. not jumping out of planes because of a latent death wish or desire to test their courage. They are jumping because it Is exhilarating and breathtaking. More and more people are becoming interested in the sport. Fifteen young adults came up from Miami one weekend to take advantage of the lessons given by South Florida Parachutes Inc. One boy wanted to sky dive because "It looks like fun. Besides It's neat to tell everybody you did it. I've done everything else," the jaded youth explained. Two girls listened nervously .to the genial instructor. "All this stuff is simple but we don't want you to go out without preparation," he said. He described the first jump a static line jump from 3000 feet. The parachute opens at 2900 feet after seconds of free fall. Although they open automatically by a static line, the chutes have dummy ripcord handles on them. "You keep the handle after you pull it. If you throw it away, it costs you a case of beer," he grinned. The students grinned back sort of. He explained the landing procedure and what they should do if the wind was strong. They might find themselves being dragged along the ground after landing. "Just release the clamp on the shoulder strap. But never use these in the air or you'll get a quick ride down." Everyone practiced releasing the clamp. A cute shorthaired brunette attempted to pull it. "I'm going to die, I know it," she wailed, causing ripples of laughter around the room. To ensure the safety of the novice, each parachute was equipped with a radio. The jumper receives explicit directions. Chutes are equipped with a device which automatically opens them at 100 feet. The instructor came to what everyone haH unspoken questions about malfunctions. The calm way he described malfunctions and how to overcome them allayed the fears of the class. Seventy percent of the malfunctions are a result of improper position, he said. "The whole secret of jumping is the arch. People don't think much about it. They want to see that ground but they should look up at the airplane. It's fun to lean back and watch the chute open. It is going real fast like a freight train down the tracks. With that the class adjourned to the equipment room to get fitted before practicing jumps off a four foot wall to get the feel of landing. The red plane zoomed on to the grassy field, and the first group of jumpers got aboard. It attained 300 feet, the motor slowed and the first jumper appeared. Almost Immediately his chute popped out and he began to float gently to the earth. When he returned he described his sensations: "I couldn't see anything but blue. I didn't feel like I was falling. I thought I might be in a spin. I didn't know." Two other first-timers were talking about their experiences. "I was too interested in myself to watch you. All I could think of was the look on my six-year old girl's face when I told her what I was going to do today." "I tried to get my legs together when I touched," another boy said, admitting he didn't land correctly. "It Is so calm and peaceful," a blonde girl remarked. "I don't remember leaving the plane or landing." "I couldn't tell where I was," one said excitedly. Sky diving seems to be as addictive as narcotics. Although relieved to be safely on the ground, all were ready to try it again. "J v 1 J ' . v . - j ' , ; 1 , . t - V ' - m t v: " . , - -- I ' , - v A V i. ' v V ' V, : .i 'V- -i ''. t. i k ... t '. X- V ' ' v. '.. : V , i; V ' - .. , '"a A GRACEFUL HOOKUP - It seems effortless, the hookup maneuvered by these three skydivers, linking hands. t t

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