Chutist hurt at air show

Wind force broke the parachutist’s arm during a jump.
Monday, May 28, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 2:41 p.m. CDT, Thursday, July 17, 2008
Brady Connell, age 4, and sister Madison, age 6, watch the air show with their Aunt Laura Drees, back left, and mother, Heather Feldman.

The second day of the weekend’s air show went according to plan with one exception — a parachutist broke his arm during the first of two scheduled sky-dive demonstrations.

Wind force broke a Canadian army parachutist’s arm during his jump, and he was forced to land with his auxiliary parachute because he couldn’t reach his main chute with his uninjured arm. He was taken to a Columbia hospital by ambulance.

“When we drug out (from the plane), we knew something was wrong immediately,” said Sean French, the captain of the Canadian army’s SkyHawks diving team. “When you dive, you hit the wind and start slowing down. You transfer from a forward motion to a downward motion, and it appears the force of the wind broke his arm.”

The SkyHawks and the U.S. Army’s Black Daggers parachute teams completed two scheduled jumps, but the injured SkyHawk didn’t take part in the second demonstration. The event’s head of security, Columbia police Capt. Mike Martin, said the injured diver appeared to be in good spirits.

“Obviously his arm was in a lot of pain, but he’s doing pretty well,” Martin said.

French said the injury was just a “freak accident.”

“He’s highly trained and he’s been doing this a long time, and he thought it was the best course of action to use the auxiliary chute with his good arm,” French said. “So besides his arm, everything worked the way it was supposed to.”

As for the rest of the show, Martin said the threat of storms may have kept some observers away, but besides one narcotics arrest at a checkpoint Saturday night, the police had little trouble with the crowd.

“It’s just been a great crowd,” Martin said. “They’ve been perfect; nice and easygoing.”

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