Facing my Fears


FACE YOUR FEARS. I first heard this popular phrase in the 1970s and recalled immediately the fatal accident involving my college parachuting club. It had left me more afraid than ever of tackling one of my life’s dreams — to go skydiving.

Last week, I made the leap. In a sexy red jumpsuit, I hurled myself into a 150 mph wind and flew like Wonder Woman. Now before you send me champagne, you should know that I didn’t jump out of a plane and I wasn’t pulling a ripcord. In fact, the only real risk I faced was helmet hair, which became a reality after wearing one of those protective brain buckets.

How did I dance on a current of air for a full two minutes? In one of just 12 skydiving simulators on earth at I Fly SF Bay in Union City . They use an ingenious contraption that pumps wind — lots of it — into a 12-by-40-foot cylinder. Four powerful fans create the gusts in the chamber that buffet and blow up to four people around at a time. For me, it was fulfilling a fantasy I’ve had ever since I saw Mary Poppins. For just $50 and a few minutes of instruction, I was swept off my feet and into a whirlwind that simulated a skydive at 13,000 feet.

Life is exhilarating when you face your fears. I am woman; hear me soar.

UNFRIENDLY SKIES: Speaking of flying, I’ve been peppered with e-mails since my column piece on airplane noise. No less than 25 readers have offered confirmation of the constant din created by planes, large and small, buzzing the hills.

“My conversations with the airports boiled down to the increase of private aircraft as the cause,” writes Realtor Laurel Strand, who first brought up the problem and suspects a lot of it comes from Federal Express carriers.

The folks at the Port of Oakland have figures showing it’s not an increase in their passenger flights, but they’re taking complaints anyway at 510-563-6463 (or on their Web site at http://www.oaklandairport.com.

My colleague, Bay Area News Group-East Bay reporter Candice Murphy, says she researched the matter about a year and a half ago, when she first noticed the noise above her house. It has since abated in her area, but she writes: “They’re San Francisco (International) Airport-bound planes . . . you have to deal with them, and it’s something like the Red Bluff Vector, as I recall. It’s supposed to be based on weather — so when it’s rainy or heavily overcast, the planes are rerouted more over Montclair.”

I’m sure that’s no comfort to readers like Judith Bean, who says the jets are coming in so low, she can almost see the passengers waving. For now, it remains one of life’s little annoyances.

STOPLIGHT UPDATE: The man who’s trying to stop the stoplight at Mountain and La Salle says the groundswell of opposition has temporarily halted the project.

“The installation is not even in the design stage at this time,” says Derek Liecty, who has formed a committee to fight City Hall on the proposed signal.

Readers like Cathy Harrison are fervently opposed.

“To put a stoplight (expensive or not) at Mountain Boulevard and La Salle is asking for horrendous traffic and pedestrian problems,” she writes. “Traffic will be backed up all through the village, pedestrians will have to cross Mountain Boulevard illegally to go from shop to shop, street parking will become impossible due to backed up traffic, people will bypass the village (bad for merchants), and car pollution will be horrendous.”

NAME DROPPING: Rumors have been flying that new Oakland Raiders quarterback Jamarcus Russell has moved into the mansion perched above Shepherd Canyon Road. But the fact that there are sometimes two black and silver sports cars in the driveway doesn’t mean there’s a Raider in the house. In fact, my mole in Montclair tells me Russell spent $3 million on an enormous estate near Skyline and Keller. With sweeping views from his fancy slate decks, he’ll be able to look down on the place where he’ll make his fortune — the Coliseum.

Reach Ginny Prior by phone at 510-273-9418, by e-mail at ginnyprior@yahoo.com and on the Web at http://www.ginnyprior.com.

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