The Braden Files
Curiosities of mathematics, history, parachuting, etc……

Forgetfulness

I’m the kind of person who, on leaving the assembly line for a coffee break, has to be retrained.

Larry

You mean, the kind of guy who after jumping has to climb back up to ask where the rip cord is kept? (sorry, sorry) Madge

Dear Madge,

Sort of. Someone once told me that the terminal velocity of a watermelon is the same as that of a human being (it is.) So I, with two of my friends, none of us very bright, departed our airplane at 7500 feet above one of the many fallow cane fields of Oahu. (We thought it best not to jump over our usual DZ at Dillingham AFB with people down below because getting hit on the head with a 120 mph watermelon would really be annoying.)

Have you ever played three-corner catch with a watermelon in freefall? Probably not…perhaps no more than ten or twenty of the people on this math list have ever had that experience, I would wager. We were having so much fun that we forgot to pull our ripcords! I looked down and saw the ground come rushing up (you don’t see the ground come rushing up above a thousand feet.) I pulled at 800 feet, was sitting under my chute at 650 feet, and my two friends were a hundred feet below me! About three seconds off the ground! After our hearts started beating again, we decided not to play “watermelon” anymore. Soon after that I was the first person in Hawaii to install an exploding cartridge that would blow out the reserve ripcord automatically at 1500 feet. Now everybody has one.

L

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