The Michigan Daily-Saturday, May 27, 1978-Page 9
)ne last step, check the chute,
and out! Why do they do it?
Mittig passes around a picture of an airplane body with
agged, gaping hole in its side. This is where a jumper
ted the plane when his reserve deployed inside the air-
,ft. "This jumper is no longer with us," Mittig says, bare
bs reflecting in his glasses. "The reserve is out in one
ond - right now." He points to another student. "What
you do if you have an open reserve in the plane?"
4ITTIG SAYS he has used his reserve chute four times.
h, I had a couple malfunctions," he says. "One was a
t West. I don't remember what the others were."
ut when discussions revolves to malfunctions he has
essed, jumpmaster Mittig talks about the now-clearing
t times Mittig speaks lightly of the risk - however
ht - of death in skydiving. "You love your mother?
at'll keep you alive," he snorts. He'd rather talk about
rnations in free fall.
is the afternoon progresses, the airport takes on a car-
al atmosphere. Families set up lawn chairs and picnic
kets on the grass strip between parked cars and the
iway. They watch the multi-colored parachutes spiral to
Nancy adds, "I always thought about skydiving when I
was little. I always thought I'd do it, but I never thought it'd
be during college."
Domeier has his own reasons for skydiving. "It's a thrill
sport. Most people the first time do it to see if they have the
nerve to jump out of an airplane. But I thought I'd stay in it
before I even took my first jump. My dad's into flying, my
uncle's into gliding, I'm into skydiving."
JUDY LANGE has never skydived, nor does she have any
desire to. She says the most athletic thing she does is laying
out in the sun. But even though she hasn't jumped, Ms.
Lange "talks the first-timers down" using a Citizens' Band
radio. The student jumpers have a receiver hooked to their
By Eizabeth Skowik
AT MITTIG'S "Go!" students fall like string puppets
suddenly released. One-two-three-four-five and roll across
your shoulders. Front left, front right. Mittig barks "Go!"
faster and faster until the girls in the front row shake their
heads at each other.
Panting, the class files into another wooden building to
practice the falls on pea-gravel -instead of grass. The target
circles of the drop-zone are filled with pea-gravel. Each
student must perfect his technique to Mittig's approval. Af-
ter falls, the class practices jumping out of the dismem-
bered body of a plane. This jump is about two feet, nowhere
near the 2000-foot drop the students will be facing in an
"In that first second," says Domeier, "before the
canopy opens, you don't remember anything. It was kind of
scary, but it's not hard to do."
"I always wanted the feeling," confesses the University
nurse. "They say the silence kills you."
"Most people are talked out of skydiving by their friends
and parents," adds Domeier.
APPARENTLY, Bob Mittig agrees. "Everyone of you
had someone try to talk you out of being here today," he
claims during his final pep talk. "You're going to do
something against logic. You're going to step out of an air-
plane." He talks about defying other people, being your own
person, not letting others influence what you do. He tells
"We're getting more first-timers than regulars because about a man who skydives in California. 'he man is blind.
'MY DADDY stands up on the airplane," announces a of the way people are nowadays," claims Ms. Lange. "They "If he can do it," says Mittig, "so can you."
nde girl no older than three. like to try a little bit of everything and don't stick to Class dismissed.
anything, jobs, school." The red-headed photographer leans against the practice
'he skydivers resemble horse-lovers who gather on sun- At lunch the class is issued coveralls and boots. Students jump platform. "This is the scaredest I've been in 20
weekends at the stable. Their horses are the airplanes, line up out in the field, a row of women backed by two rows years," he admits.
rever, and people come not to ride, but to jump. of men. Here the students learn how to fall at landing. They The banker from Toledo shakes his head. "I'm just
'This is a sport where you have to think," says Nancy learn how to fall over and over and over and over again. looking forward to it now."
Mahon, a University sophomore in engineering. Nancy repetition, it seems, is Mittig's favorite teaching tool. MITTIG retires to the snack bar to indulge in a can of
jumped nine times. She recently completed her first "There are five points of contact," Mittig shouts like an pop. Alcohol is not permitted in the drop-zone during jum-
e fall. Even though Nancy is actively pursuing skydiving Army commander. Mittig himself has donned skydivers
she calls is her "habit" - she is not sure why she does it. fatigues. "The ball of the foot, the calf, the thigh, the push- ping hours.
guess it has to do with defying parents. They don't want up muscle-" he indicates a point on his side near his arm "What am I doing here?" he muses, trying to decide why
ito do it." "-and the shoulder." he has been skydiving for 13 years.
"I love my mother."
Whether just landed, or just before takeoff, the skydiver is safest, though not necessarily happiest, on the ground.