Michael McGuire admits to being afraid of heights if he’s on a tall building, but you wouldn’t have known it to see him Saturday.
The 29-year-old Stillwater man floated down from the sky with an American flag trailing from his parachute as “The Star-Spangled Banner” played over the loudspeaker at the Galway Airport for the first Wings and Wheels Showcase.
“In skydiving, it’s the opposite,” he said of fear of heights after he landed. “The higher you are, the better.”
McGuire has been skydiving for seven years with Mohawk Valley Skydiving in Scotia. “It’s actually an easy thing to learn, for most people,” he said.
And it’s peaceful, not scary, he said: “On a clear day, we can see the north end of Lake George.”
The Catskills and Sacandaga Lake also are visible from up high.
All eyes were on the sky Saturday at noon when McGuire and three other divers dropped out of the plane — first tiny, appearing from the clouds at 6,000 feet, and then larger as their red, white and blue parachutes unfurled and they glided toward the ground.
“That was really awesome,” said Julia Milton, 17, of West Glenville, as she watched with her mother, Jeanne. “It looks like they would break their legs when they land.”
Instead, the divers each hit the ground running.
The Experimental Aircraft Association’s local Adirondack Chapter 602 sponsored a fly-in for the event, which included various small planes and helicopters.
One of them, helicopter pilot Ed DeRossi of Johnstown, spun his aircraft in hairpin turns as the audience watched. He then performed a routine with orange traffic cones, carefully setting them up and pushing them over with the chopper’s skid landing gear and then delicately hooking the cones on the ends of the skids and flying away with them.
The airport, owned by Jack Schleich, used to hold a smaller fly-in but decided to add more events this year to benefit the Galway Fire Department and the Galway Lions Club.
“He’s always wanted to host something for the fire companies,” said Doug DeRidder, a former Galway fire chief who served as master of ceremonies for the event.
DeRidder was pleased with Saturday’s turnout: “It’s more than we expected. This is what we wanted.”
Schleich said he hopes to make the larger event an annual festival.
At least 200 people milled among food stands, sat in the shade and watched the airplanes, bid on items in a silent auction and checked out the antique cars.
Among them was Mike Maxson of Galway. “It’s kind of nice for a country setting,” he said while relaxing in the shade.
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