Saturday, January 14, 2012

Ancient Spirits Jump for Joy at Canyonlands Field



Tandem parachute jumpers descend at a radical angle into Canyonlands Field, Moab, Utah - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com) In May 2011, I drove Hwy 191 North to Canyonlands Field, which serves as both the commercial and private aviation airport for the City of Moab, Utah. It was a clear, windless and warm day at the airport. My friends Tiger Keogh and Terry Carlson, both of whom work at the airport, had invited me out to watch the flight action on that busy Saturday. Soon after I arrived, the Great Lakes Airlines plane from Denver, Colorado landed, followed quickly by several charter aircraft. Although the commercial traffic was interesting, voices in the sky kept interrupting my photographic work.








Watch First-time Parachutists in Full-motion Video Action


Since the land around Canyonlands Field contains so many ancient spiritual sites, for a moment I felt those spirits calling down to me. Looking up, I saw a series of skydivers contrasted by a thin overcast of clouds. Wheeling around in the breeze, their hoots and hollers reverberated across the quiet airfield.

Tiger Keogh (left) and Terry Carlson enjoy a May afternoon at Canyonlands Field, Moab, Utah in 2011 - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)Out past the Redtail Aviation hanger, where we share our MoabAirlines.com webcam, I saw beyond to the Moab Skydiving Epicenter. There, two separate businesses, Skydive Canyonlands and Skydive Moab offer tandem parachute jumps for novices and first-timers. With shouts of joy and abandon coming from all over the sky, I captured the scene using both live video and still images. To do that required juggling my Sony Bloggie Touch for the HD video with my ancient Sony DSC-F717 digital camera for the stills.

Like ancient spirits from the sky, parachutists descend to Earth in Moab, Utah - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)As soon as I arrived, a small Cessna loaded with parachutists taxied around the corner and took off. Soon, I could hear the plane circling above, but the bright sun masked my view. Until we heard shouts from above, no one below knew that jumpers were in the air. Looking up, I soon caught sight of several first-timers preparing to land. Friends were hooting from below, which set off more hollers from above.

One exuberant jumper ran all the way from the landing zone to the staging area. As tears of joy streamed down her face, “It was freaking awesome,” she declared to her friends. Indeed, it was awesome to see humans descending from a blue and white sky desert sky. The image of mythic humans descending from above conjured my own visions Moab Rockart, which often features the spirit of the ancients floating in the air.


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