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High flyers!

Posted on 4th June, 2012 by Admin

It seems people have been obsessed with flying for a very long time now. I certainly have vivid childhood memories of hurtling down a steep grassy hill on cardboard boxes with our cousins, and then off over the terrace edge to land on the roof of the garden shed. Now that I think about it, not sure Mum was really aware we were doing that? Did you know that anonymous designs of parachutes have been around since the 1400’s? The first detailed parachute plan appeared in Leonardo da Vinci’s work  in 1485. Initially made of silk & lately more often made of nylon, the modern parachute was invented and tested in the 18th century. The first recorded public jump was by Louis Sebastian Lenormand in 1783.

Now of course not everyone  seems to have that innate excitement about crazy leaps and jumps – I know that the one time I went with my kids on the giant drop at Dreamworld my screams and theirs were definitely the result of entirely different emotions. And certainly during the Switzerland week on Biggest Loser there were some strong panic reactions – my personal favourite was Margie saying “I have pets, I can’t afford to die – I have responsibilities!!” Don’t worry though if you’re not the jump off a cliff type, you still have plenty to offer; as G.B. Stern wrote “Both optimists and pessimists contribute to our society. The optimist invents the airplane and the pessimist the parachute.”1

So, now armed with all this top quality parachute and sky diving information you’re ready to hear about what’s up next with Smallsports. For our June program (can you believe how quickly the year is speeding by?) we have an excellent bunch of games and learning activities all based around using the parachute.  This is such a fun and beneficial time where kids really enjoy the bright colours and windswept feel that goes with using the parachute. As well as talking and learning about aeroplanes, helicopters, birds, flying, the sky (lessons that are forced enthusiastically upon us throughout the year whenever such an item is spotted!), it is a great opportunity to reinforce concepts such as up, down, over, under, inside, outside. Plus we get the chance to improve our skills in following instructions and plenty of teamwork too.

Well, hopefully the week continues bright and breezy for you and that as you look back on each day, you feel that you have faced and overcome the challenges dished up to you. Maybe you’ll even find a moment to hit up google with your kids and have a good look around at some parachute pictures and stories. For a tiny cherry on top, here’s one set of parachuting instructions that made me chuckle: “When the people look like ants — Pull. When the ants look like people — Pray.”2


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1. G B Stern quote,               

2. Anonymous quote,             

3. Louis-Sebastien Lenormand jumps from the tower of the Montpellier observatory, 1783. Illustration from the late 19th century,

4. The oldest known depiction of a parachute, by an anonymous author (Italy, 1470s),