Rolling off the main road to Dexter airport, the view was through trees to where a Cessna with it's door off sat. I had met the strawberry blonde beside me in my 1948 Ford coupe with Chevrolet milk truck engine at a party off campus. She couldn't really speak English. She was a Finnish exchange student. I tried German perhaps to be refused.

Soon I learned she wanted to learn skydiving. So there we were, the mentors were willing to take on a student. Over to the side was a long board with bent aluminum fingers upright at one end to separate the shrouds of the chute. The open grassy area where she would land had a little platform to jump off and she began jumping off rolling up on her side as instructed. Once that seemed certain a parachute was brought out. It wasn't a round military one. It was for civilians and had toggles on the shrouds to spill air on one side or the other. It wasn't a rectangular ParaCommander fully steerable.

Next was some instruction in how to pull the ripcord on the backup chute that would be in a bundle on her belly. How to throw the chute that came out into the wind was almost a game. If the main chute tangles, or fails in anyway, reach to your shoulders and squeeze the clips and it will tear away.

A somewhat heavier sound of a radial idling announced the arrival of a high wing (greenish or bluish?) silver tail dragger. Lumpety-lumpety, watch out for the propeller as you walk over. "This is the Howard DGA that can go up to 20,000 feet for a longer fall before opening. The Cessna can only go up to 10,000 feet." I was fascinated by seeing a Pratt & Whitney 450 h.p. 985 cubic inch 9-cylinder radial with a bumpy cowl.

Now was the serious business of paying for the instruction and the flight. I decided to stay on the ground and be prepared at her landing site. She next received her chute. All she had now was to pack it carefully with the shroud lines folded so the static line would pull it out smoothly. That took quite a while, and the two airplanes had departed with experienced jumpers.

The Cessna came back first and with her chute packed "Rita" learned to unbuckle, get out of her seat and reach for the wing strut while stepping out into the slip stream to stand on the landing gear wheel. Then it was, "arch your back and leap back and out to miss the tail." She was a very lithe athletic young woman.

The morning had passed and as the day warmed her ride reappeared. She practiced getting out. Then it was time to get in for the ride and hook up the static line in the cabin on the wall by the door. The engine was restarted and they were off. I listened to the taxi, takeoff and climb. Soon the sound above was almost silence.

I had walked over to the grassy area. A dark blob was falling ballistically from the DGA. Then with an imaginary "whoosh" the canopy opened and -- I was standing well back as she landed, standing up, then rolled well up her side. The loaned jump boots with foam soles had cushioned some of the impact and then I was over helping her trap the canopy and collapse it. Bundled up now, she carried it proudly.