Boogie down

The annual Dollar Daze Couch Freak Boogie skydiving festival at the Fort Dodge Regional Airport offers an unusual recipe for escaping the 100-plus heat index.

Just get into an airplane.

This will, according to skydiver Ryan Gill, of Lincoln, Neb., cook you a bit further.

“The first 1,500 feet you broil,” he said. “Sweating on the ground is rough.”

Once airborne, they open the doors for a blast of rapid cooling.

As the craft gains altitude, it reaches a zone just above 13,000 feet where the air temperature is in the upper 50s.

“The air is just really nice at altitude,” he said.

Matt Clampitt, also of Lincoln, was on the same flight.

“It felt amazing up there,” he said after landing back on the terrestrial sweat zone.

He doesn’t mind the weekend away from indoor climate control.

“This is so much more fun,” he said. “I left my air conditioning to come here.”

Stephanie Wagle, of Omaha, was getting ready to make her first jump at the Couch Freak Boogie. She would be taking it with instructor Chuck Crinklaw, of Bellevue, Neb.

It was her second jump ever.

It was a bit more for Crinklaw; he’s expecting to make his 3,300th jump later this week.

“I make about 500 jumps a year,” he said. “I’ve been doing this for 14 years.”

The reaction to what they were about to do Friday afternoon – jumping out of an airplane – varies from person to person, he said.

“Some of them are very nervous. You can feel their legs bouncing a 100 miles an hour,” he said.

He has a ready reply for a student who might decide to back out once in the air.

“I tell them that if they want to, we can back out but then they’d be going first,” he said.

As of Friday afternoon, all of them, including Wagle, went through with it.

“Lets go again,” she said once they were back on the ground. “Right now.”

Dan “Flip” Flippo, of Fort Dodge, is now the proud owner of the Polyester Palace. The shop sells clothing and shoes that were in style decades ago, much of it in bright colors. It’s been a long-running tradition at the festival. While it might be demanded by the picky shopper, not all of his inventory is actually polyester.

“There is rayon and silk,” he said. “There’s even a wool blend.”

What’s purchased tends to vary with age, he said.

“The younger ones buy what’s in style now to mix with what’s coming in,” he said. “The older ones are searching for what they had in that era.”

Flippo hopes to develop the Polyester Palace into a force for good. He wants half the proceeds to go toward maintaining the inventory and the other half toward charity.

While most of the dives at the festival are made from airplanes, jumping out of a helicopter is also an option.

Sonny Doubleday, with Chopperpimp Productions, was helping Timbercreek Helicopters with the flights. He said it’s a whole different experience.

“One second you’re hovering,” he said. “The next you feel like you’re falling off the Empire State Building, for about 8 seconds, ’til you reach terminal velocity, you really feel the pull of gravity.”

Of course, the drop is a little further; the divers bail out at 4,000 feet. The Empire State Building, according to it’s website, is 1,050 feet tall at the observation deck.

Why jump out of an airplane?

Matt Clampitt has a ready answer. “You have to make the most of your time while you’re here. Do something out of the ordinary.”

The public is invited to attend the festival and watch the skydivers. There is an observation area from which people can watch for free. For the more adventurous, tandem jumps are available.

Diving begins at 9 a.m. today, Sunday and Monday and continues until dusk each day.