Thursday, July 26, 2012

Ottawa, Illinois and Skydive Chicago

Popcorn wagon in downtown Ottawa, Illinois
Margot and I visited Ottawa for my 40th class reunion. Had a GREAT time. It was fun to catch up with a number of people. I left the camera in the car. Go here to see some pictures from the reunion. OTHS Class of 72 Reunion - Facebook

Read this article before you skip your next reunion. Class Reunions

We had a little time to kill on Saturday. Here is picture of the famous popcorn wagon at Washington Park. Looks great. I don't know if it is the original, but if it is they are taking great care of it.

Lincoln and Douglas statues in bronze at Washington Park in Ottawa, Illinois

Here are statues of Lincoln and Douglas in the park to commemorate the site of the first Lincoln-Douglas debate in 1858. I'm pretty sure these are relatively new. They are surrounded by a nice fountain.

The downtown area of Ottawa looked great. Lots of flowers and trees. There are a few empty storefronts but overall it makes a nice impression when driving through.

Many years ago I couldn't understand why Lincoln-Douglas Park was out by the swimming pool. Why not name this downtown park after Lincoln - after all this is where the debate was held. Not sure how long it took me to realize it was named Washington Park before the debate took place!

Wikipedia - Lincoln Douglas Debates  Many people don't realize that Lincoln actually lost to Douglas in the U.S. Senate election that year.

Civil War Memorial at Ottawa, Illinois

This is the Civil War Memorial near the statues. The inscriptions in the marble have faded significantly over the last 140 years.

There are new granite plaques listing the names on the monument near the base.

Nancy Savage Playground at Ottawa Opportunity School at First Presbyterian Church in Ottawa, Illinois.

While we were downtown we stopped by to take a look at the Nancy Savage Playground at First Presbyterian Church - Home of Opportunity  School.

The hot weather has been tough on the grass but otherwise it is maturing nicely.

On Friday evening we had dinner with long time friends at the Uptown Bar and Grill in LaSalle. Here we are with (left to right) Paul and Terry Youngstrum, Lisa and Dan Mestelle, Margot and Tom Savage, and Diane and Mike Farrell. For those of you not from upstate Illinois that is pronounced Lay-Sal.

Parachutist at Skydive Chicago in Dayton, Illinois

When we got up Saturday morning we could hear planes overhead. When we looked out we could see parachutes coming down.

We drove out to Dayton to take a look and see what was happening.

Skydive Chicago, as the operation is known, was very busy. Lots of activity, 2 planes taking 20 or so jumpers up at a time more or less as fast as they could go up, drop them off and dive back to the loading spot.

Really colorful. Lots of activity.

It seems like they have a lot of control as the glide down. Many are making a lot of twists and turns.

The only limit seems to be that you are always going down. No do-overs if you don't like where you are headed. They have to plan ahead.

Sometimes, if you aren't paying attention, you hear them first. Sort of a whoosh sound as they zoom by.

This guy barely cleared the taxiway. Almost all of the experienced jumpers land on their feet. They take a couple of steps then start gathering up their chute.

This is a shot of the plane loading up for the next flight. In a couple of minutes they are roaring down the runway.

Here is the plane taking off. You can see folks from the previous flight gathering their gear.

Notice the clear roll up door on the jump opening.

You can hear the plane engines working hard as they climb up. They get so high it is hard the spot the  planes and you can just see little specks in the sky when they jump out.

The plane engines go quiet and you know they are bailing out. I imagine the ride down in the plane is pretty exciting, too. They must dive down pretty steeply. Sometimes the plane lands before the last jumper hits the ground.

Here is a sequence of a guy landing.

As you can see, his glide path is pretty shallow.

One of these days I'll remember my camera has a video mode on it and I'll give it a try. That would have been fun here.

Every plane load seemed to have 2 to 4 students with instructors jumping in tandem rigs.

That is the student in front.

They glide in and land on their butts. That's why you see the legs up posture.

Here is another pair. It looks like both are holding the controls. I imagine the instructor can over ride if the student makes a mistake.

I think you have to do at least two tandem jumps before you can go solo.

Learn more here.

I asked this guy if I could take his picture as he walked back to the hanger. He said sure but tried to talk us into jumping that afternoon.

Notice the video camera on his helmet. We saw a lot of those. They seem to make a point to photograph and video the students and their own jumps I suppose.

Interesting vibe at the place. Very friendly. Everyone having a good time. As with many extreme sports it seems to attract its fair share if individualists, non-conformists, etc.

This guy, however, looks like he stepped out of the pages of Esquire or something. Ex-military, maybe?

Skydive Chicago building

Here is shot of the hanger and operations and training center.

Here are couple of shots of the chute packing area inside the building.

Click to enlarge any of the photos.

It is all very open. We just walked in like we owned the place. Got a drink at the snack bar, walked around, took a few pictures.

Here a group of four are planning the maneuvers they will perform during free fall on their next trip up.

Notice all the boards off the side. They can accommodate a pretty big group.
Student and trainer at Skydive Chicago

Here a student gets some training from her instructor. Notice the videographer recording the experience. I imagine you get a tape of the whole experience to share with your friends and family.

This old DC-3 looked out of place at the airport.

If you want to visit, drive to Dayton. Just on the west side of the bridge turn north and drive a mile or so north of town.

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  1. I would like to use a few of your photos on our Downtown Ottawa Merchants Facebook page that I am creating. Do I have your permission to use? I will also put a link to your blog if you would like...

    1. You are welcome to use the pictures. I only ask for a photo credit and link to be displayed.

      Thanks for asking.