Yearning to Fly without Wings

Every issue of The Red Bulletin claims to go “Beyond the Ordinary” by covering extremely risky sports and daredevil activities that would surely daunt Old Scratch himself who did some remarkable freefalling of his own.  In the January 2017 issue the staff takes flying leaps to a new level. The Gallery section jumps off the deep end with a shot of a skydiving team ascending behind hot-air balloons on a pendulum swing just before a beginning a four-second descent and a 5,900 freefall. “It’s everyone’s dream,” skydiver Georg Lettner says, “to swing higher and higher, and finally jump off and fly.” Speak for yourself, Georg. It is also everyone’s nightmare to plummet from a high place in a parachute that never opens.

According to the secretary of the Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club quoted on page 25, ice sailing on frozen lakes near Madison is “The closet feeling to flying to can get.” Judging by the warm temperatures forecast for Wisconsin this week, being on frigid waters in boats equipped with sails will be the closest feeling to drowning you can get.

On page 62 Bryce Menzies is shown airborne in a truck during his record-breaking 379-foot leap over a ghost town in New Mexico. The editors coyly add “And a crash that make you cringe.” The prospect of whether Menzies will crash again at some time and become a ghost himself will also leave readers cringing.

Jumping out of a plane without a parachute is more than a little cringe-worthy, yet the editors applaud one Luke Atkins who did exactly that and lived to share his story. “The landing didn’t hurt,” Atkins said. “My right shoulder looked like a tennis racket had smacked me, but it was gone in the morning.” He doesn’t say whether his shoulder or the pain had disappeared by the dawn’s early light.

Right up to the final page titled “Makes You Fly” the editors have their heads in the clouds by showcasing a wakeboarder easing his way over a flying container in Pula, Croatia. (There is no indication successful jumps are met with cheers of “Pula Pula” in the same way Yalies love to chant “Boola Boola” at football games.) “The first time is scary,” says wakeboard pro Felix Georgii. “But after a while you just love it.” Most readers are likely to say to themselves and anyone nearby, “You just love it. We’re still cringing.”

Those same readers are not likely to “Love the Beast” shown swimming on page 71 by going cageless shark diving and believing that sharks are “not to be feared but embraced.” Constant Reader who is encouraged to “Open Your Mind” is likely to respond with “Only if you can guarantee that the sharks will not open their jaws while being hugged.”

Even fewer readers of The Red Bulletin taking part in the Dakar Rally which just concluded on January 14 followed the advice given in tip #37 regarding what to do if a vehicle hits an animal: “Put it on the barbecue. South American steaks are the stuff of legend.” Solid evidence for the indigestibility of road kill can be found in Loudon Wainwright’s legendary “Dead Skunk.”

The best counsel given in the entire magazine as to whether anyone should attempt the exceedingly dangerous activities described in The Red Bulletin can be found in the final words of tip #39 regarding the chances of winning the Dakar Rally: “See how it works, get good at it…Otherwise, never.”

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