Search the Community
Showing results for tags 'people'.
Found 28 results
ALEDO - For 20 students in Stacie Ragle's fourth-grade class at Stuard Elementary School, helicopter pilot Dana Bowman's visit Friday was an exciting learning experience. For one student, 10-year-old Kylie Houx, the visit was a chance to prepare for the fact that on May 8 her feet will be amputated. Bowman, a former Army Golden Knights parachutist who lost parts of his legs in a skydiving accident seven years ago, flew to the school in a Bell 206 Jetranger III to show Kylie and her classmates that losing an extremity does not necessarily mean losing ability. "It's not about disabilities. It's about abilities," the retired Army sergeant said.Kylie was born with a medical condition that retards bone growth in her lower legs. As she grows, her feet lean inward, causing her to walk increasingly on her instep. The problem becomes more severe over time, and although surgeries and medical devices have given her some relief, the best option clearly is replacing her feet with prostheses, said her father, Frank Houx, a 45-year-old car salesman. Bowman, who lives in Weatherford, was injured Feb. 6, 1994, as he practiced with fellow Golden Knights parachutist Jose Aguillon over Yuma, Ariz. The two collided at a combined speed of about 300 miles per hour while rehearsing a maneuver in free fall. An automatic device opened Bowman's parachute when they collided. Aguillon was killed. Bowman's left leg was amputated below the knee, his right leg above the knee. Since the accident, he has jumped with the Golden Knights, has earned a bachelor's degree in aeronautics from the University of North Dakota, and has become a certified helicopter instructor. He also skis, on snow and water, and scuba dives. Through the Dana Bowman Limb Bank Foundation, a nonprofit organization he heads, Bowman makes speaking appearances nationwide. He distributes information about himself and his foundation through a Web page, www.danabowman.com. Bowman told the students that he overcame the mental and physical pain of his injuries and loss and lives a full life. He uses modern prostheses of steel and titanium. His brain has allowed him to pick himself up and to do anything he wants, he said. "I've still got my mind, right?" he told the students. Turning to Kylie, he encouraged her about the pending surgery. "You are going to be able to do whatever you want to do," he said. After the talk, Kylie and her parents went up for a few minutes in the helicopter. Kylie, small, blond and shy, said she learned much from Bowman's speech but didn't quite feel like talking much about the day. During the helicopter ride, she talked away, her father said. "She was just rattling away on the headsets." Joanie Houx, 47, said the visit helped her daughter. "Kids get scared about this," she said. "When they see something like this, it makes everybody more comfortable." For more info go to Dana's web site
Squadron Leader Harry Ward, AFC, parachutist, was born on June 1, 1903. He died on July 24 aged 97 IN THE heyday of the travelling air circuses of the 1930s, the former RAF parachutist Harry Ward toured the world, from Ireland to India, astonishing crowds with his death-defying "birdman" leaps from rickety biplanes. In his winged costume - which imparted a measure of control over the freefall - Ward was an early forerunner of today's skydivers. Ward's costumes were different from those of his fellow birdmen in one important respect. Far too many of those daredevil parachutists stunned the crowds by making a lasting impression on the ground when their chutes became entangled in fanciful clothing. Ward incorporated a release mechanism into his rig, to enable him to jettison his wings before he pulled the ripcord, so reducing the risk of snagging his parachute. In this way he lived to rejoin the RAF at the outbreak of the Second World War and serve as a parachute instructor. Henry Wilfred Ward was born in Hackney six months before the Wright brothers first flew. His first passion was painting and he studied at Bradford School of Art from 1919 to 1921. But he was one of seven children and there was no money to support a struggling artist, so he joined the fledgeling RAF and trained as a carpenter-rigger. He later went to the parachute section at Northolt as a packer, and became a parachutist himself when the commanding officer challenged him to jump with a chute he had just packed. He made his first descent from the wing of a Vickers Vimy biplane bomber. When the RAF's crack parachutist, Corporal Arthur East, was killed making a jump, Ward took his place in the RAF's demonstration team. (During the First World War parachutes had been discouraged on the assumption that flying without them "makes the chaps try harder".) But when the parachute ceased to be a novelty, the demonstration team was disbanded, and with the RAF in decline as the Twenties wore on Ward left the Service in 1929. On the strength of an RAF driving licence he became a London bus driver, and when the bus company formed its own flying club he volunteered to make a parachute jump at the opening ceremony. He was soon earning more from display jumping than from bus driving, so he left his job for the life of the travelling air circus. In the days long before steering toggles he attained a high degree of manoeuvring expertise with a simple 24ft canopy. With the circuses becoming less popular as the decade moved towards its close, Ward worked briefly as a mechanic for Imperial Airways before becoming a civilian instructor at the RAF's apprentice school at Cosford. He rejoined the RAF at the outbreak of the war and was soon helping to set up a parachute training school, to produce airborne forces. The first aircraft were Whitley bombers, with a hole in the floor in place of the ventral gun turret, through which the parachutists had to jump.Ward produced a prototype helmet, from strips of foam rubber purloined from his landlord's sofa, to afford the troops some protection against the hazards of dropping through the narrow slit. He also helped to prove the feasibility of using barrage balloons for parachutists' initial training. He was awarded the Air Force Cross in 1942 and posted to the staff of the Army's 1st Airborne Division. He finished the war as a squadron leader at the headquarters of 38 Group at Netheravon. A civilian again in 1945, he managed officers' clubs in Greece and Germany. Returning to England in 1951, he ran a succession of hotels and pubs in Yorkshire. He was twice married. His second wife predeceased him, but he is survived by two sons.
More than 500 years after Leonardo da Vinci sketched his design, a Briton has proved that the renaissance genius was indeed the inventor of the first working parachute. Adrian Nicholas, a 38-year-old skydiver from London, fulfilled his life's ambition to prove the aerodynamics experts wrong when he used a parachute based on Da Vinci's design to float almost one and a half miles down from a hot air balloon. Ignoring warnings that it would never work, he built the 187lb contraption of wooden poles, canvas and ropes from a simple sketch that Da Vinci had scribbled in a notebook in 1485. And at 7am on Monday, over the Mpumalanga province of South Africa, Mr Nicholas proved in a 7,000ft descent that the design could indeed be looked upon as a prototype for the modern parachute. Yesterday he said: "It took one of the greatest minds who ever lived to design it, but it took 500 years to find a man with a brain small enough to actually go and fly it. "All the experts agreed it wouldn't work - it would tip over or fall apart or spin around and make you sick - but Leonardo was right all along. It's just that no one else has ever bothered trying to build it before." Mr Nicholas, who holds the world record for the longest free fall at just under five minutes, was strapped into a harness attached by four thick ropes to a 70ft square frame of nine pine poles covered in canvas. He was then hoisted by a hot air balloon to 10,000ft above ground level. The balloon dropped altitude for a few seconds, to enable the parachute to fill with air, and the harness was released, allowing the parachute to float free. Surrounded by two helicopters and two parachutists, Mr Nicholas fell for five minutes as a black box recorder measured the 7,000ft descent, before he cut himself free and released a conventional parachute. The Da Vinci model, which has more in common with sail technology than with the modern-day parachute, made such a smooth and slow descent that the two accompanying parachutists had to brake twice to stay level with it. It had none of the sudden plunges and swinging associated with modern parachutes. After being cut free, the contraption floated to the ground with only minor damage on impact. Mr Nicholas, a former broadcaster who has made 6,500 skydives, said: "The whole experience was incredibly moving, like one of those great English boy's own adventures. I had a feeling of gentle elation and celebration. It was like floating under a balloon. "I was able to stare out at the river below, with the wind rattling through my ears. As I landed, I thanked Leonardo for a wonderful ride." The contraption, which has seen two aborted attempts to fly over Salisbury plain in Wiltshire earlier this year, was built by Katarina Ollikainen, Mr Nicholas's Swedish girlfriend. Following Da Vinci's design for a four-sided pyramid covered in linen and measuring 24ft square at the base, Ms Ollikainen used only tools and materials that would have been available in the 15th century, apart from some thick balloon tapes to stop the canvas tearing. Although there was little demand for parachutes in the 15th century - and it was the Frenchman Louis-Sebastien Lenormand who was always credited with the first parachute jump after he leapt from a tree with the help of two parasols - Da Vinci gave specific instructions for his design. He wrote beside his sketch: "If a man is provided with a length of gummed linen cloth, with a length of 12 yards on each side and 12 yards high, he can jump from any great height whatsoever without any injury." Leonardo's inventions By Helen Morris Aereoplane Numerous machines using bird-like wings which could be flapped by a man using his arms and legs - although most were too heavy to get off the ground using manpower alone. Encompassed retractable landing gear and crash safety systems using shock absorbers Helicopter Prototype featured a rotating airscrew or propeller powered by a wound-up spring Armoured car/tank Powered by four soldiers sitting inside. Problems included its thin wheels and large weight, which would make it hard to move Diving Several different suits, most with a diver breathing air from the surface through long hoses. One imagined a crush-proof air chamber on the diver's chest to allow free swimming without any link to the surface Robot First humanoid robot drawn in about 1495, and designed to sit up, wave its arms and move its head via a flexible neck while moving its jaw Machine gun His innovations to create rapid fire led to the Gatling gun and the machine gun To see more of the Guardian Unlimited network of sites go to http://www.guardian.co.uk