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A high-flying 70th birthday celebration event

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Jan Moore, of Monett, fullfilled a special birthday wish on Oct. 8. She celebrated her 70th birthday by tandem skydiving. Pictured above is Moore after exiting from the plane with instructor, Justice Perkins, from 10,000 feet in the air. [Fletch-O-Vision Photography]
There are a number of things that people would love to achieve in their lifetime, but very few reach their goals. One local resident recently experienced something she never thought she would get to do in celebration of her 70th birthday.

"I have always wanted to experience what an eagle or hawk would feel like in flight," said Jan Moore, of Monett.

When Jan turned 65 years old, she decided that when she turned 70, as long as she was in good health, she wanted to skydive.

Perkins and Moore are pictured above freefalling at 120 miles per hour before the parachute opened. "I don't know if I was nervous," said Moore. "I think it was more disbelief that I was actually fulfilling a lifelong dream. I thought I would scream, but I didn't because I was just in a total sense of awe." [Fletch-O-Vision Photography]
"It has always been a life-long dream," said Jan.

To make sure she was healthy and able to undertake such a feat, Jan underwent medical tests. She passed with flying colors.

A long-time member of New Site Baptist Church in Monett, Jan made her skydiviing wishes known to a friend and fellow church member, Mark Willey, of Monett, who also showed an extreme interest in skydiving. A date was set for Oct. 8, and the wheels were in motion for an event that neither would ever forget.

When the parachute opened the glide had a forward drive airspeed of 20 miles per hour. "At one time I looked down and it looked like I was going to land on top of the barn," said Moore. "But Justice had it all in control. He put me down like a marshmallow, such a soft landing." [Fletch-O-Vision Photography]
Jan and Mark made arrangements to tandem skydive at Freefall Express Skydiving, located outside of Mt. Vernon, owned and operated by Bryan and Ly Wolford. The instructor was Justice Perkins.

Justice began skydiving in 2000 as a hobby and eventually became interested in teaching skydiving. He received his first instructural rating in 2005 and passed his flight physical.

"This was something that I have wanted to do since I was a kid," said Justice.

Justice also has emergency medical training. Since Perkins began skydiving, he has made 3,275 jumps with 1,700 being tandem jumps. He averages approximately 25 jumps per weekend.

"Everyone should do it once in their life," said Justice. "I have never had anyone jump and then say they wished they had never done it. The whole experience is hard to describe. You just have to do it to know how it feels."

Tandem skydiving is a type of skydiving where a student skydiver is connected via a harness to a tandem instructor. The instructor guides the student through the whole jump from exit through freefall, piloting the canopy and landing.

The students needs minimal instruction before making a tandem jump. This is a very popular training method for first-time skydivers. It exposes first-time jumpers to skydiving with minimal expectations from the student.

The training may consist of many of the activities performed by any skydiving student. For example, students learn how to exit the aircraft, how to do maneuvers in freefall and how to deploy the main canopy. However, the tandem instructor remains primarily responsible for safe and timely parachute deployment.

Also jumping with the instructor and Jan was a photographer, Gary Fletcher, from Fletch-O-Vision.

"I was so in awe and caughtup in what I was seeing and feeling that I can not tell you the particulars," said Jan. "I just know that it was something that is unimaginable until you experience it."

The skydiving experience began by the plane climbing approximately two miles up or 10,000 feet. After jumping from the plane, the freefall is approximately 120 miles an hour. When the parachute opens, it glides the skydiver at a forward drive air speed of 20 miles an hour.

"You are just gliding, relaxed and caughtup in everything around you," said Jan. "I couldn't hear anything, but when the parachute shot up, I could hear the air in the chute as it filled up. You could hear the wind under me, and Justice, the instructor, took me around and caught the wind currents and we just came down. The landing was as soft as a marshmallow."

Jan and Mark had an audience on the ground, which included family and church family.

"This was a celebration of what the good Lord was going to let me do," said Jan. "I have been asked numerous times if I would do it again and without hesitation my answer is absolutely. Can I go tomorrow?"

For more information on Freefall Express Skydiving, call 417-882-5867 or visit www.freefallexpress.com

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