Attempting to fly/parachute as a child

My wife and I were talking the other day and she mentioned that both her brothers had injured themselves jumping off buildings because they either 1.) thought they could fly or 2.) thought a sheet would double as a parachute. She ended her diatribe saying, "Doesn’t that prove how stupid my brothers are?

Far be it from me to defend her brothers’ intelligence, but I had to admit that I too had tried to defy gravity on a low-tech basis. I made wings out of cardboard (almost ripped my arms off that time) and used a sheet as a parachute (it was my fingers that hurt that time - I actually tried that twice. The second time was with the sheet from my parents’ bed. I figured I just needed more material to compensate for my weight. In my own defense, after the first attempt, my older sister was the one who said I almost had it. Yeah, I know, it was my older SISTER!). Fortunately, I lived on a ranch and we had a barn and I landed on hay.

Anyway, despite what my wife said, I think many people feel the need to test their ground-based perspective and pull stunts like her brothers and I did. How many of you have tried something similar? Any success? Any interesting failures?

I tried it with an umbrella. Well, Mary Poppins could do it.

Busted my arm right in half! Both bones in my forearm, one in my wrist, and my thumb.

Man, I thought I could do it.

Did the umbrella-flying thing too:
[li]Off the back porch[/li][li]Off the cobblestone wall[/li][li]Off the roof of the car[/li][li]Off the ladder leading to the second floor of the garage[/li][li]Off dad’s backhoe bucket[/li][li]Off the porch of my playhouse (2 story playhouse)[/li][li]Off the low and middle branches of the apple tree in the backyard[/li][li]Off the 12-foot tall mound of dirt in the side yard[/li][li]Off the piles of stone curbing dad kept in the backyard[/li][/ul]

Amazingly, nothing was broken except a couple of umbrella ribs, and me getting winded when I landed on my stomach a couple of times.

I made a Flying Nun costume, including cornet, when I was nine. I’d run around the neighborhood on windy days and try my luck. My parents got a lot of phone calls, so eventually I had to stop. I still think I could have done it…

My father had a section of a oparachute. I tried using it by jumping off relatively short things (hey – I didn’t want to get hurt if it didn’t work!).

It didn’t work.

On The Ed Sullivan Show, Mary Martin (in her role as Peter Pan) told me in no uncertain terms that I could fly if I believed enough. I’m happy to say that my belief didn’t carry me to the roof, but I made my Dad fly me around the house every night before bed, kind of like the method he used to teach me to ride my bike. Didn’t have the same effect, though.

Both of my brothers tried it with umbrellas - after a landing in the rosebushes, they decided to try a king size sheet and each hold two corners. No broken bones, but my mother never figured out why her umbrellas wouldn’t open right.

I blame Warner Brothers.

In the spring in Colorado, you often get very strong winds (gale force, or stronger). We (some of my sisters and I) used to stand on a small hill on our property and try to jump into the wind with a blanket ‘parachute’. It didn’t work too well, but then it din’t work too badly, either.

Tried with an umbrella, tried with a sheet; no luck. I decided the problem here was the principle: Instead of something to slow my fall, I should be working on something to make me fly. A friend and I had some idea about using a big sheet of foam-rubber, which we would just sort of hold onto and run, and that would let us fly (we were maybe 9 at the time). I do not recommend diving into a head-first flying position with your arms behind you holding your “wing.”

Anyway, no one was killed, or even injured, as I recall. After I had gained some wisdom and scientific knowledge (say age 12), another buddy and I decided to make one of those bicycle-powered planes that someone at the time was flying over the English Channel. Mom caught us, and that was pretty much the end of my days (OK, seconds) as an aviator.

Or WAS it?..

I tried making parachutes out of garbage bags and string, but they never worked right. Didn’t jump off anything high enough to cause any serious damage.

Oh yes. Off of the roof (single story), off of the block wall, off of a tree limb. Didn’t get hurt.

When I was about 10 or 11, I made a sail car using a bed sheet, and was goofy enough to ride it during a Santa Ana wind storm. With gusts over 110mph, I was moving right along and thought that I was probably going to die because it didn’t have any brakes. I was dragging my feet, trying to stop and totally trashed my “school” shoes. I was saved by going down into a ravine where I was protected from the wind and was able to slow down. I was still going pretty fast when I left the pavement, but thankfully, I missed the guardrail and went off only about a 3 foot drop into the ravine. Ended up with just a few cuts and scrapes, a bruised ego, and a badly damaged pair of shoes.

After that, I knew I could fly during a wind storm if could make a kite big enough. But since my dad was so pissed about me ruining a pair of shoes, (he threatened to kill me if I didn’t come to my senses and straighten up), that I didn’t try it. Now they have para-sails. I guess I was just ahead of my time.

I used to jump out of my swingset armed with a plastic grocery bag.

I only flew for a few seconds. Luckily, I never swung very high.

While visiting an aunt that lived on the Washington Coast (little town of Ocean Park), my brother and I hit the beach on a day the wind blew a steady 30 to 40 mph. At the time I was 12, my brother 11. We were going to try paragliding, something we saw the day before on the beach. We borrowed a bed sheet and a length of rope from my aunt. At the beach, I tied the corners of each sheet to the belt loops on my brothers pants. He got to go first because he was smaller and would get off the ground easier. I then tied the rope (quarter inch sisal, the old fashioned kind) to his waist. I grabbed the end of the rope and told my brother to toss the sheet into the wind. In theory, he would float up a few feet and I would pull him back down. A strong gust hit about the same time he let the sheet go. The sheet caught the wind and pulled my brother over onto his back, then about 10 feet into the air. The rope whistled through my hands so I grabbed it to stop it. Big mistake. Took the skin off the palm of my left hand. My brother was carried about 20 feet in the air before he hit the sand. He as drug across about 20 more feet of wet sand, throught a bunch of dead seaweed, then across the dry sand for another 40 yards. About half way across his trip on the dry sand, he turned himself so he was being drug feet first instead of head first. The sheet pulled off his pants and flew another 100 or so yards, finally getting caught up in some beach grass. My brother ended up with some scrapes and my left hand hurt like hell.

About 5 years later at Christmas time, I overheard my aunt tell my mother that she had lost a sheet but had found it a few months earlier stuffed in a paper bag that was stuffed in behind the chest freezer in her garage. Right where I left it.

In the first grade, I tried to jump off of a jungle gym and fly using my umbrella. I wussed out at the last second and never looked back.

This seems to me to be a polling type of thread, so I’ll move it to IMHO.