Free FallThe Free Fall Research Page
Personal account written by Robert X. Leeds|
Mr. Leeds is also the author of a number of books
For additional information, see www.epicpublishing.com
At age 15, I joined the parachute squadron of the Civil Air Patrol which performed at bond rallies and military recruiting drives. A year later, I formed my own flying circus, (parachute aerobatics) and was putting on an exhibition at the Monroe Airport in Monroe, Michigan, on July 6, 1947. At 6 pm, I was the last jumper and performed a one-mile delayed opening jump from 6,500 feet. At about a thousand feet I pulled the rip cord for my 28 foot Pioneer back pack. The chute went out and up in a streamer. I knew exactly the problem, I had a line-over. The parachute would puff out and then close, puff out and then close. In desperation I kept pulling the shroud lines apart hoping to get air up into the canopy but without success.
I finally pulled the rip cord on my twenty-two foot chest pack and the silk came out and just hung there, neatly folded in front of me. I grabbed the folded canopy and threw it out as hard as I could and the wind caught it and pulled it upward, twisting it around my streamer. Now, both of my parachutes were disabled. I was coming down probably around 60 to 80 miles per hour and I knew if I hit at this speed, I would definitely be crippled or killed.
It is amazing what you can do in a few seconds. I literally asked myself if I wanted to die or even live as an invalid. My answer was definitely NO.
I began pulling in all my chest pack's shroud lines until I could get a hold of the canopy. I shook the canopy wildly until a gust of wind inflated the canopy. I was about a hundred feet above the ground. The chute popped open and I was thrown in a wild oscillation to where my back was parallel with the ground. The edge of the canopy hit the ground first and then I did, flat on my back.
I lay in a six inch embossment of my body in a newly plowed field of the farm next door to the airport. A crowd gathered around me and everyone just stared in silence, not knowing if I was alive or dead. I didn't know myself. After several minutes I began trying to move the fingers of my right hand. Then my left hand. Part by part, I tried all the limbs of my body and felt no pain or injury. When I tried to sit up, several hands grasped me and pulled me to an upright position.
I walked away without so much as a scratch. Following this incident I must have made over a hundred free falls and static line jumps without incident.
Mr. Leeds believes that there was an article in the local Monroe, Michigan newspaper since he is pretty sure that there was a reporter at the airport. A quick search of the web brings up the Monroe Evening News. If there is anyone out there who has access to the microfilm of the Evening News and can find the article, we would be grateful if you would send it to our way.