I didn’t even know I had one until I saw the movie of the same name.
By the time I realized that I had a bucket list, I had already done many of the things I would have put on it. Of the things remaining, foremost was jumping from an airplane.
I envisioned myself, attached to an experienced sky diving instructor, parachuting from 10,000 feet and landing safely on the ground. Then an odd thing happened: A sky diver attached to an experienced instructor jumped from 10,000 feet and landed in the field next to our farm in Mogadore. Both were killed on impact; their parachute didn’t open properly and the second chute tangled in the first. No sky diving.
Then I fell in love with Ultralites, hang-gliders powered by a small gasoline engine. But when two-time Indy 500 winner Emerson Fittipaldi crashed one into his own orange grove, breaking his back and seriously injuring his 5-year old son, I realized the potential dangers inherent in the sport.
The worm turned again. I was driving by one of our parks a couple of years ago when a power parachute literally fell from the sky. I stopped the car and ran to where the un piloti gently touched down. His parachute was rectangular and multi-colored, a fan-like device about a yard in diameter was strapped to his back. While he unstrapped himself, I peppered him with questions about the safety of power parachuting.
He told me that before he flew for the first time, he had been acrophobic (afraid of heights). His wife had given him an emergency parachute for his birthday. (Nothing says love like an emergency parachute.) He had been as high as a mile or more and never felt in danger. This seemed like a reasonable alternative to sky diving, in fact, better in that I would actually get to fly just like I imagined as a kid before someone explained the laws of physics to me. But I still had the dream.
A couple of years ago I agreed to power parachute attached to an experienced instructor. I was going to write a story about the experience, and our photographer, Shane Wynn, was going to photograph the whole thing. The day of the flight, the wind kicked up to an unacceptable speed, and we weren’t able to reschedule before the season ran out. I had shoulder surgery that fall and was out of commission during much of the following year.
In the meantime, during the immediate recovery and under the influence of heavy painkillers, I saw myself hanging in mid-air, being able to only see my legs and feet and then nothing but empty air for more than a mile down. And it scared the hell out of me. I’ll let you know if I ever do get off the ground.
I can’t let this month’s cover go by without explaining about the Goodyear racing tire that was used as a prop by photographer Shane Wynn. It once was attached to the left rear corner of Paul Newman’s Nissan race car. I don’t have any proof except the eyewitness who absconded with the tire and wheel from Lime Rock Raceway in Connecticut where Paul Newman had been testing the new 280ZXR Nissan. In truth, his team pulled out of the race track and left the used tire and wheel behind. So maybe "abscond" isn’t the right word. They found their way to me sometime in the ‘90s and have been displayed in my offices ever since.
I’ve always thought it was pretty cool, but not long ago a young intern asked me about it, and I told her very proudly that it had belonged to Paul Newman. She stared at me blankly and asked, “Who’s Paul Newman?” I might as well have said that it was once owned by Rudolph Valentino. and her recognition level would not have been lower. To her, it was just a dirty old tire. The baby in the tire, however, is a fresh young thing named Vivian Rose Stewart. Even the intern would recognize that.