Kini and Kimi Go Skydiving!

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We are in Burnt Chimney, Virginia
with Bob Ramsey, Marlin Bowman, and Robbie Conner
Today is 10:00 am Saturday, April 20, 1996

Also see the New River Valley Parachute Center Reunion page

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10:00 am || 12:00 noon || 12:25 pm || 2:00 pm || 6:00 pm

10:00 am - Saturday, April 20, 1996

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I never knew that lizards could fly - until I met Bob Ramsey! He skydives every weekend he can and offered to teach Kimi and me how to parachute jump. We thought that would be VERY COOL! 02marlinplane.jpg (25399 bytes)

Bob drove us to his dropzone (also called the DZ) just outside of Roanoke, Virginia in Burnt Chimney. The "zone" is the place where skydivers land and you know what drop means! After the two hour drive, Kimi and I needed to stretch our little legs and tails. We were very happy to finally arrive at DZ. As soon as we got out of the car, Marlin Bowman, the pilot, let Kimi and me climb up the propeller and look through the windshield of his airplane. Very fun and very scary!


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Bob said that I would go on my jump first and then Kimi would go on her jump. Before any jumper can get on the airplane, he or she must get weighed on this funny-looking scale. That's because airplanes can only carry so much weight and fly safely. After we were weighed we had to sign a paper called a "waiver". This means we know that skydiving is a risky sport and that we are willing to take the responsibility and the risks for jumping out of an airplane. Bob reminded me that jumping out of an airplane or even jumping off of anything can be dangerous. That is why we are being trained to do this. 


08bobcanopy.jpg (20981 bytes)Now Bob is going to show us what a parachute looks like. Look at all those strings and fabric! That is all that is going to hold us up in the sky. Did you know that all skydivers wear two parachutes? A big one called a main canopy, and a smaller one called the reserve canopy. The reserve one is in case the main canopy gets tangled up or doesn't work. I feel better now that I know I'll have two parachutes.


09rigcheck.jpg (16428 bytes)I couldn't believe that Bob folded all that stuff into a rig on his back. Buzz started to laugh at how tiny my rig looked on me. But then, I'm tiny too.

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Buzz introduced me to Robbie. They're married and they skydive together. Bob and Robbie are going to teach me to fly in the sky. But first, I have to learn how to fly while I'm still on the ground. Skydivers call this dirt-diving. We dirt dived a lot!

Robbie even practiced with a video camera on her helmet because Kimi and I wanted to have a video of our skydives to show the children at Riner.


12:00 noon

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We have all our gear on and we are ready to go! The next time I see this door it will open into the sky and I'll be climbing out with Bob!


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When we took off I was so excited that I climbed up on the pilot's shoulder to see all the dials and gauges. Pilots sure have to know a lot about a lot.

16inplane2.jpg (13231 bytes)Look at me! I'm flying in an airplane! I asked Marlin how planes fly. He said that airplane wings create "lift" because of the way air moves over their special shape. If you want to learn more about airplanes, take a look at our page called "All About Airplanes" on the adventure in the Airrace Classic page.

17inplane3.jpg (10081 bytes)See us lift up over the ground? And that's where we re going - up, up, and away! Up to 8,000 feet to SKYDIVE!



12:25 pm

I'm here! I'm really here! I'm 1 1/2 miles above the ground! Eighteen-wheeler trucks are so tiny they look like ants.  Bob grabbed me and giggled. "Are you ready to SKYDIVE?!" he yelled. And then I giggled! We opened the door, climbed out of the plane to stand on the wheel. "Ready, Set, GO!" And we went!


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There I was skydiving hard with Bob holding me TIGHT! I was falling at 120 miles per hour and it bent my tail! These pictures were taken from the video camera Robbie was wearing on her helmet. We didn't have a still camera that we could put on Robbie's helmet that day.


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When my parachute opened I felt like a bird - even if I was a lizard. HOW EXCITING!  Parachutes go about 45 miles per hour. To slow down, you have to pull down hard on the yellow toggles, this changes the shape of the parachute, spilling the air and slowing you down. We both landed so lightly that it was like jumping off a moving skateboard. Amy got a picture of Bob landing.

Kimi got so excited that she let out a mighty lizard yell!! Can you imagine what that sounded like? Bob giggled again.


2:00 pm

23kimicanopy.gif (12566 bytes)For her jump, Kimi decided to make a hop-and-pop.  She jumped lower than I did. She hopped out and popped open her parachute at 3,000 feet. Just for fun, Kimi used an old-style round canopy. She liked floating through the sky because it was so quiet. 24kimicanopy2.gif (17660 bytes)

Kimi looked down and saw a hawk gliding in circles below her. She suddenly knew that creatures as different as lizards and birds could learn to respect and even love each other when they share what they like to do.

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I was so excited after Kimi landed that I ran over and kissed her on the nose.

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Have you ever seen two skydiving lizards jump for joy?

I peeked over Kimi's shoulder and saw some beautiful yellow flowers. So I gathered a bouquet to give to her. She blushed. And we could hear Bob giggle some more.


6:00 pm

We couldn't stop talking on the way home to Riner. Bob asked us to tell all the children that Kimi and I have been trained to jump. They have not. Remember, children should NEVER jump off high places.  It could really hurt.

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Later Bob told us that he gave his father, Lee, a skydive for Lee's 70th birthday. They are so different, but they wanted to share something special.  Mike took this picture of Lee and Scott.  Bob flew over to shake Lee's hand while they both smiled for the camera.

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Did you know that not all parachutes are made for skydiving? When Bob was in Colorado he got to use a specially made round parachute like Kimi's   to pull him across a frozen lake on his skis! This sport is called "Up-Skiing." Think about other sports that use parachutes. The space shuttle uses one when it lands and some of the race cars on TV use them to slow down. 

After our adventure in Hawaii, Kimi and I knew that we would never look at the ocean in the same way again. And, after today, we knew that we would never see the sky in the same way. We've soared with the birds and flown beside the clouds.

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When we dream our dreams, they will be of soaring and of flying. And, in your dreams you can come with us.


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