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Cherry Doyle of Eufaula has fallen. But she did get up.

By adminon - Read 1678 times

In fact, she got up before she fell-way, way up-11,000 feet above ground level to be exact.

And it was no accident when the 72-year-old grandmother jumped from a 1957 single engine plane, Saturday, Nov. 29.

She was making her well-planned first sky dive strapped to her son-in-law, Jay Phillips, a skydiving instructor with the Opelika Skydiving Association. "It was so much fun," Doyle said.

During a tandem skydive, the student parachutist is strapped to an experienced instructor parachutist. The student wears a special harness, which attaches to the instructor's harness at two shoulder attachment points and two waist attachment points. The instructor wears the harness and container, which houses the parachute.

The two hook together in the plane prior to the jump and exit together in "tandem." The pair then falls through the sky at approximately 120 miles per hour and deploys the parachute at 4,000 feet above ground level. The two then fly the rectangular shaped parachute to a pre-designated landing area.

A videographer flew alongside Doyle and Phillips.

"Cherry made a picture perfect skydive, flight through the air under canopy and landing right beside the camera man," Phillips said.

"I didn't have to do anything," Doyle said. "I didn't get to work the controls."

Doyle said the most exciting part of the jump was the 45-second free fall. She remembers lots of wind and noise and the cold.

"The wind almost takes your breath away," she said. "It's cold because you're up so high."

Once the parachute opened, the rush was over.

"Once the chute opens, you just float down, like sitting in a chair," Doyle said.

At no point during the dive did Doyle close her eyes.

"I wanted to see what was going on," she said. "It was not as frightening as I thought it would be. I've been more frightened at amusement parks. I won't say it wasn't scary, but it wasn't terrible."

Her practical outlook aided her attitude.

"Once you get out there's nowhere to go but down," she said. "They do it every day."

Although Doyle had heart surgery six years ago, her biggest concern about the jump was breaking a bone- especially her hip.

But Doyle knew she was in good hands with her son-in-law, especially after her daughter and Phillip's wife, Ellen Doyle Phillips, M.D., threatened him that if anything happened to her mother she'd kill him.

Another of Doyle's daughters, Amy, and her husband, David Emerson, M.D., also made tandem dives with Phillips that day.

Doyle said she didn't have the opportunity to skydive when she was younger, although she had seen it on television and thought it would be fun.

She "guesses" it's the most risky thing she's ever done, and something her deceased husband would not have approved. Doyle is the widow of Dr. James Doyle of Eufaula. "He would have said, 'you're not going to do that,'" she said. "He was more cautious. He would have thought it was crazy."

Doyle is far from being the oldest person on record to skydive, but with the newfound enthusiasm she has for the sport, a record could be in her future. "I definitely would consider doing it again," she said.

"I would recommend it (skydiving) to any adult."

Doyle's jump, as well as her attitude, impressed her son-in-law.

"I've never met anyone quite like Cherry," Phillips said. "She is the most outgoing, determined, optimistic and cheerful person I know. I think very highly of her. I don't think she'll ever get old.



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