For What It’s Worth

Parachute or umbrella?

Now and then, you read a story about something you never thought you would read. In this case, it was a story about a man going Mary Poppins by testing whether he could float to earth with an umbrella as a parachute.

While A Spoonful of Sugar may help your medicine go down, an umbrella, despite what you may have seen in a movie or in a TV commercial, won’t help you float down from the sky. An umbrella may be fun wistful thinking as a parachute substitute, but, in reality, it’s a failure. As a parachute, an umbrella will let you down because it won’t let you down like a parachute. You follow me?

About two weeks ago, Erik Roner, a professional skier who has been skydiving and BASE-jumping since 2000, decided to go Mary Poppins and jump from an air balloon, clinging to an umbrella to see if it would allow him to float safely to earth. The stunt (I can’t in honesty call it an experiment) was videotaped for, I assume, one of three reasons: 1) to have a publicity stunt to show on YouTube, 2) to have video proof of his stupidity in case it killed him, or 3) to have video evidence on the off chance that the impossible happened.

Umbrella in hand and, as I’m sure you have assumed by now, with a parachute on his back, Roner climbed into his hot air balloon and rode it aloft. At the appropriate height, he stepped into space from the balloon with a firm grip on the umbrella.

For less time than it takes to say Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, Roner floated through the air with his umbrella. Then, as Mary Poppins herself would no doubt have predicted, the umbrella collapsed upward from the force of the air and was no longer either a parachute substitute or a protection from the rain, had there been any.

Roner pulled the rip chord, releasing his parachute, and then floated safely to the ground. The moral to this story? I’m not sure there is one.

However, it did cause me to pause and wonder if sometimes I pack my faith parachute and strap it to my back just in case it is needed, and then I go jump into something clinging to an umbrella substitute that I know won’t work.

 

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