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Flying in a wind tunnel

5/23/2007
Glenn DeLong is all smiles as the 180-mph winds of the simulator lift him skyward. James Overstreet

FORT BRAGG, N.C. — Freefall simulator manager Art Doame laid on the ground and held his arms, feet and head off the floor, putting all his weight on his stomach.

The roar of the 3600 horsepower engine that is capable of producing 180 mph winds muffled his explanation, but he was getting the point across.

"Now you want to relax your arms and hands as much as possible, but you have to keep them up and beside your head," he said, giving a full demonstration. He followed his demonstration on the floor by teaching the anglers hand signals because the 3600 horsepower motor on the fan makes it impossible to hear.

"The most important signal is the thumb down," he said. "That means you need to tighten up your butt."

It seemed simple enough and Doame baby-stepped how it would go from start to finish. Unfortunately, it was a complete waste of his time. Maybe the guys can't listen or maybe they can't perform, but it's obvious they can't fly.

"We were like four wounded dove flying around in a big ol' circle," Stone said after he, Gerald Swindle, Steve Daniel and Mark Rogers made their way out of the tunnel.

Keith Phillips was watching the show from the sidelines. "You should have seen Swindle," he said. "The second he got on that thing, he flew into the wall."

And as for the ESPNOutdoors.com reporter who was trying to experience the story, thumbs down didn't mean to tighten the butt, it went by the more traditional interpretation that I sucked.

"Come, on man," I thought as Doame shoved the thumbs down in my face. "I'm doing what I can here."