Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

G.I. Joe: Action Team 'Chutes for the Hearts of Small Children

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

G.I. Joe: Action Team 'Chutes for the Hearts of Small Children

Article excerpt

IT'S 1964. Beatlemania sweeps the nation. Pop-Tarts and Lucky Charms appear on our breakfast tables. The Ford Mustang and topless bathing suits make their debuts. And G.I. Joe, a doll for boys, is introduced by Hasbro, a major U.S. toy manufacturer.

Thirty years later, the classic action figure is enjoying a revival, not only as an object of nostalgia for a generation of American males, but as a valuable collector's item worth up to $1,000. To mark the occasion, Hasbro is promoting a year-long "30th Salute to G.I. Joe," which includes a 10-city tour by the G.I. Joe Heroes Skydiving Team. The three-man, one-woman group will perform at the VP Fair July 2-4.

As a member of the team, Larry Jones takes great pride in his portrayal of "Flint," one of the series of characters created for the toy line.

Jones' involvement with the team is particularly appropriate, since he was born the same year as Joe, and is a real life hero to many people in his hometown, where he serves as captain of the local fire department.

Since he began skydiving as a hobby eight years ago, Jones has logged over 1,000 jumps. Two members of the team have five to six times more experience, but, according to Jones, skydivers are rated on their level of skill, not on the number of hours they spend perfecting their sport.

In May, the team began its tour of the U.S. and Canada, appearing at an air show in California. The routine consists of several tricks done with the parachutes. This canopy-relative work, or CRW for short, includes maneuvers such as one team member climbing down another member's parachute line. The four also link up during free fall and create patterns such as wedges and diamonds with the sky as a backdrop.

Spectators can easily spot the red, white and blue parachutes emblazoned with the G.I. Joe logo from their vantage point on the ground. However, since the skydivers begin their descent from 1,000 feet in the air, it is difficult for those viewing the show to grasp how fast the performers are falling. That is, until the team members activate smoke canisters strapped to their feet, releasing plumes of smoke that follow the parachutists as they plummet toward the Earth at an amazing 120 miles an hour. …

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