Take the Plunge : Gloria Emerson

Gloria Emerson

The writer, Gloria Emerson, narrates her surprising experience of skydiving from a plane with the help of parachute. She never thought herself daring enough to do this task. She had a bad back, uncertain ankles and poor depth perception. Even then she wanted to do some brave deed.

The first US Sports Parachuting Center was opened at Orange in Massachusetts, seventy miles off Boston. Ex-marine, Jacques Istel organized the first US jumping team in 1956. In his view, parachuting was “as safe as swimming” and the “world’s most stimulating and soul-satisfying sport”. He was a trainer in this training center for skydiving.

The writer and her companion had to jump on a bright May morning with Istel’s newly designed parachute. It had thirty-two feet canopy and a large hole for the escaping of air. They were given some instructions before the plunge. They had to steer with two wooden knobs. They could land in a standing position; but should bend their knees and lean to one side. They were boarded a Cessna-180. She wore the jump suit, the equipment, the helmet and the boots. She could neither bend, nor sit nor stand up. There were many straps around her. First of all, her companion jumped from twenty-three hundred feet height. Then it was her turn. She felt some pain. She was hooked to a static line. Her instructor took her to the doorway and shouted “Go or Now or Out”. The parachute suddenly opened. She saw the endless sky and colorful earth. She enjoyed being in the sky and wanted to remain their for long.

Soon she landed on her feet in the pit with a bump. She was taken to see General James Gavin who had led the 82nd Airborne Unit He was pleased to learn that his pupil could jump. People congratulated her on her successful plunge. People were pleased as well as surprised.

Training at Parachuting Center

The first US Sports Parachuting Center was opened at Orange, Massachusetts during 50s. Jacques Istel, an ex-marine organized the first US jumping team in 1956. The center trained the young competitors in jumping from a plane. They were taught to jump towards the earth in a swan-dive position, to use the air as a cushion and to move arms and legs to untie the cord of the parachute opened. this training was for the beginners only. The writer and her companion had passed through all these stages. They had to use Istel’s newly designed parachute with a thirty-two feet canopy and a large hole for the escape of air. Two wooden knobs for steering were attached to it. It was designed in such a way as to increase sideways speed. They were asked to bend their knees and learn to one side while landing. In this way, they could easily land in a standing position. The beginners were trained in the morning while the experts divers displayed their feats before a crowed later.

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