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We've Fallen and We Did Get Up

Editor's Note: Editor's Note: Judy German is Chairperson of the Toronto Chapter's Fund-Raising Committee and David Senf is President of the Toronto Chapter of the NFB: AE. From the creative mind and dedicated hard work of Judy German, came the ultimate fund-raiser.

What a blast! At Sky Dive Toronto, on July 17, 1999, the Toronto Chapter of the NFB: AE set out to climb to 10,500 feet and willingly step out of a perfectly healthy airplane. Our day started at 7:45 a.m. at the Islington subway station in Toronto, where we gathered to drive an hour north of Toronto to the jump site in New Lowell, Ontario (near Barrie). We were soon enjoying the clean air and clear blue sky-perfect for a day of skydiving and picnicking.

Once at the school a bit of reality was introduced, as we signed innumerable release forms. After signing our lives away, we viewed an instructional video detailing the process of skydiving. Staff member Lesley Allen, did a great job of describing the contents of the video to us. Following the video, we received individual training from personal instructors, Glen Edwards and Allen Roulston. This instruction included: how to arch your body to balance in free fall, how to pull the ripcord, and how to land.

Soon the time came to put on the strong harness and other gear for the impending jump. The strong harness is designed for tandem jumping linking the back of the jumper to the front of the instructor. What our training did not include, was how to pry your fingers lose from the open door of the airplane once you are two miles above the ground.

A Sesna-182 was waiting to lift each instructor and jumper for a thirty-minute flight up to 10,500 feet. The engine starts, you roll along a field building up speed for takeoff. Once in flight, over the roar of the single propeller plane, you and your instructor review jumping procedures. Once reaching your altitude, the door flies open, and now it is time to step out of the plane! Cold thin air rushes through the plane, as you position yourself at the open door, extending your feet onto a small ledge. You are ready to jump! Excitement and trepidation course through your veins as you pry your fingers from the sides of the door and tumble into the open sky, hoping to remember all your instruction, for example, when to pull the ripcord!

After a somersault or two you balance in the air, free falling for about 25-30 seconds before pulling the ripcord to open the parachute. Feeling a strong pull up, the chute opens (thankfully) and you slow down for about five minutes more of gliding to the ground. "Grab hold" the instructor shouts, as he extends to you handles to pull for left and right turns, or full circles. An incredible feeling of "my God I'm really falling" is triggered each time you feel the power of a turn. Too soon it is time to land. Pulling up your knees, you let the instructor touch down first, then touching down with your feet, and you both walk forward. Upon landing your first reaction is "So, when do I get to go again!" What a blast!

A possible thunderstorm threatened to cancel the jumps of Bob Fenton (National President) and David Senf (Toronto Chapter President). They did however get the opportunity to soar into the open sky; luckily for them the storm broke on our return trip to Toronto. Fortunately, inclement weather did not linger for our massive celebratory BBQ dinner hosted by Judy, with her daughter Paula doing the cooking.

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