May 11, 2015
By Jenae Hackensmith

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Isabel Ollman took the jump of a lifetime Saturday by sky diving at the Waseca Municipal Airport Saturday to celebrate her 90th birthday.

“It was just awesome,” she said. “I’m so glad I did it; it was the best experience in my life.”

Ollman, who turned 90 May 4, said she was a bit scared to go, but it was worth it.

“I was afraid initially going out the door, but after that it was a breeze,” she said. “I’d be a fool if I wasn’t a little bit afraid. You overcome that fear and it was a wonderful experience.”

Ollman’s jump was in tandem with an instructor, and the duo had a Go-Pro camera attached to capture Ollman’s adventure.

“The only thought that went through my head was, ‘Why am I doing this?’” Isabel laughed. “But I know why I was doing it, I like adventure and I just had the best time ever.”

Isabel was inspired by former President George H.W. Bush, who went sky diving to celebrate his 90th birthday last June. She thought, if he could do it, so could she. It was an adventure she always wanted to take.

Two of Ollman’s grandchildren also jumped — Katherine Ollman, 23, and Zach Ollman, 38. Ollman said they also had a great experience. She encouraged anyone thinking about skydiving to do it.

“Please try it; it will be a wonderful experience,” she said.

Isabel enjoys many other hobbies and stays busy. Along with walking, she volunteers at the Mower County Senior Citizen Center, plays cards, is on a bowling league from September to March and works out with some weight-lifting.

Ollman, who’s lived in the Austin area since 1947, said her family was shocked when she first told them her goal to sky dive, but they accepted the idea. Many of Ollman’s family and friends were there to support her and see her float through the sky. They celebrated her birthday with a party Sunday.

Isabel said she doesn’t know what the next adventure will be, but she is certain there will be more projects over the horizon. As for now, she is just relaxing after her journey back to the ground.

“I’m just trying to recuperate after this one,” she laughed.

February 19, 2011
By Andrew Knaus

Sky Diving A Big Hit At Big Freeze

Albert Lea, Minn. (KTTC) — Families from around the area joined in on the festivities of the weekend long Big Freeze Event in Albert Lea.

Many took part in a two mile snow shoe walk.

Others used the event to finally find the time to take the kids ice fishing.

“The boys have been bugging all winter they wanted to go ice fishing, I’ve never had them ice fishing. I’ve taken them fishing in the summer but never in the winter. I’m usually pretty busy in the winter time. So I finally got a chance today,” said father John Tenneson.

If one was hungry they could take part in judging a chili cook-off.

Sue Runden says “It was excellent, very good chili. All of them.”

And for the more adventurous, the big freeze offered skydiving.

“Best part was the free fall going 120 miles and hour through the air. Floating down to earth. just a beautiful day for it, sun’s out, nice temperature. It was perfect,” says Jim Hanson ,the first sky diver of the day.

He says he did have doubts running through his mind as he waited to jump.

“Why am I doing this? there’s gotta be better things to do on a Saturday morning than this but now that it’s all done it was the perfect thing to do.”

Paul M. Malchow
Posted: Monday, June 14, 2010 11:02 am

Sky is not the limit for familyfull_2634-207x300

From a stereo inside a hangar at the Le Sueur Municipal Airport, the heavy thumping dance sounds of the Bee Gees bounce around the steel building.

“Ah, Ah, Ah, Ah, Stayin’ Alive, Stayin’ Alive…”

The hangar is home to Southern Minnesota Skydiving and co-owner Cory Hannah is preparing for a heavy schedule of jumps for the afternoon. “Yeah, we like a little Bee Gees – sometimes some country western,” Hannah said.

Is “Stayin’ Alive” some sort of skydiving theme song?

“Oh my gosh!” Hannah laughs. “I never even thought of that!”

Hannah and partner Scott Girtler moved their business into Le Sueur on May 1. They do tandem skydive jumps – Girtler pilots while Hannah is strapped to his client and wears the parachute. Day-to-day operations are taken care of by Brian Zieske who is a certified senior rigger and packs the parachutes for the jumps.

“Scott and I wanted to start out on our own,” said Hannah who owns a state record of performing 100 jumps in a 24-hour period, “and we checked out a few airports. (Le Sueur) is really a nice airport. The location is good because we’re fairly close to the cities. It’s fairly quiet so we don’t have to deal with a lot of air traffic.”

On May 31 Hannah and his crew were prepping for a group of six who were attempting their first tandem jump. Le Sueur resident Wayne Swenson had arranged the jump as a birthday present for his wife Joyce. The Swenson’s offspring decided they wanted to participate as well and everyone gathered at the hangar for training and a fair amount of paperwork.

“How long have you been doing this?” one of the Swensons asked Hannah.

“Oh!” deadpanned Hannah. “You’re my first ones!”

“I’ve been doing this for about four years,” Hannah went on to say. “Professionalism and safety are our two goals. We want this to be an enjoyable experience.”

While Hannah goes over the procedure of the day and tells the Swensons what to expect, Zieske goes over Hannah’s pack which weighs about 50 pounds. In it is a 370 square-foot “canopy” as they’re called instead of parachute. “A single skydiver’s canopy is about 180 square feet,” Zieske said, “but since you’ve got more weight with a tandem jump, you want a bigger canopy.”

The pack is designed with releases on each side so the chute can be opened with either hand. The reserve chute is a high-tech marvel and can only be packed by a senior rigger. “Reserve chutes are inspected every 180 days,” Zieske explained, “whether they’ve been opened or not. There’s a sensor which arms itself at a certain air speed and the chute will automatically open at 1,800 feet. So even if something should happen and the jumper loses consciousness, the chute will open. These (riggings) are state of the art.”

After watching a 10-minute video on tandem jumping, Joyce gets strapped into the harness which will bind her to Hannah during the jump. “I’ve always wanted to do this since I was about 20,” Joyce said. “I kept harping about it and the other day (daughter) Jamie said she had seen them diving at the airport. I’ve always had a spirit of adventure and I love rides. It’s a thing you want to check off to do in your life.”

The single engine plane is occupied by the pilot, Hannah, Joyce and Tom the photographer. Tom jumps along with the clients, taking photographs on the way down commemorating the jump. “Empty your pockets,” Hannah ordered. “Take off any necklaces or dangling jewelry. You’ll lose your shoes if they’re not tied tied tight.”

The plane climbs to about 10,000 feet. Hannah and Joyce will free-fall for about 5,000 feet when Hannah opens the chute.

It takes about 10 minutes for the plane to reach altitude. On the ground, John Adler monitors radio communication. He stays in touch with the airport, notifies aircraft of jump activity in the area and maintains contact with air traffic control in Minneapolis. Adler estimates he’s made about 2,800 jumps.

“I’m no daredevil,” Adler stated. “I’m not looking to set my hair on fire. I’m a short, fat, Jewish guy. This is such a great thing and so much fun. I’m hooked.”

After scanning the bright blue sky for what seems like forever, two parachutes appear as the jumpers begin their descent. “You can’t jump through clouds,” Hannah said earlier, “but as long as you can see the ground you can jump. You can jump in the winter, but probably not any colder than 20 degrees. You don’t want to jump with the wind gusting above 20 to 25 miles per hour. Steady winds are pretty easy to handle, but gusts can really cause problems out there.”

Hannah and Girtler get constant weather updates from the National Weather Service – not only at ground level, but at various altitudes. On this day the temperature is in the 70s. The air temp at 10,000 feet is in the 30s.

Zagging lazily overhead, Joyce and Hannah eventually touch down lightly. Taking readings off of equipment he is wearing, Hannah announces, “We were in a 33 second free fall, reaching a top speed of 126 miles per hour. At 4,900 feet I opened the chute.”

“It was great!” Joyce exclaimed. She had finished the jump, but her feet had yet to touch the ground. “It was so peaceful. You could see the whole valley. It’s hard to believe you’re going that fast. It was awesome!”

Hannah said anyone interested in tandem jumping must be at least 18 years of age and weigh no more than 240 pounds. “Anyone over 6’4” or 6’5” is difficult to get out of the plane,” he said. “You should also be in good medical health.”