Daredevil, 61, learns to sky-dive ANNE ARUNDEL SENIORS

FREE-FALLING AND FEARLESS

April 28, 1993|By Amy P. Ingram | Amy P. Ingram,Contributing Writer

Glenn Mathiasen has finally learned to fly without wings. He used to fly planes for the U.S. Air Force, but now, at 61, he just jumps from them.

He enjoys falling 10,000 feet to Earth, traveling at speeds over 120 mph. "It's a challenge of new feelings," he says.

His free-falling partner, 55-year old Mike Shultz, agrees. "It's a psychologically demanding and emotional experience, but it's a thrill of a lifetime -- bar none."

Mr. Shultz, a sky-diving trainer with Aquafoil Inc., taught Mr. Mathiasen how to sky-dive three years ago. The two have jumped a tandem free fall (strapped together) twice since then and plan to jump again within the year. Each time they jump, they take turns opening the parachute at 4,000 feet.

"He's a very thorough teacher," said Mr. Mathiasen, who lives in Arnold. "He does everything he's supposed to do and makes me feel very confident to jump."

Mr. Mathiasen said his only concern comes the moment he looks over the edge of the plane from 10,000 feet up. "The first time I went up, Mr. Shultz had to tell me twice to jump until I finally did. And then, only a second later, all the fear was gone."

Remembering his first jump over the Eastern Shore, he described the 40-second fall as an onslaught of visual, physical and emotional feelings. He said the noise of the wind and the sights were amazing. But it doesn't feel like falling, he says.

"Close proximity gives you the feeling of falling because there's that ground coming up so fast to meet you, like a roller coaster attached to the ground. But when you jump, you're flying and there's nothing holding you down. It's just not the same sensation."

Dorothy Mathiasen calls her husband a daredevil and says he has no fear. "He's a person who just goes on having new life experiences. He's become a hero around the neighborhood."

Mr. Mathiasen agrees that fear is not a part of his daredevil vocabulary. "Although jumping into mid-air is against everything I know and everything I was taught, I just wanted to give it a try."

His partner and teacher says free falling is just like driving a car. "As long as you stay on your side of the road, you're OK."

Mr. Shultz, who lives in Crofton, has taken the plunge more than 4,000 times in 29 years and has never been hurt.

The next time Mr. Mathiasen and Mr. Shultz meet, they will try sky aerobics -- spinning and tumbling. "We get high in the natural way," Mr. Shultz says.

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