Yes: I just jumped out of "a perfectly good airplane."
The above images were taken during my "Level 7" Accelerated Freefall (AFF) class on 8/13/00. Exiting the aircraft at 14,000 feet and pulling the ripcord at about 4,000 feet results in about a 60-second freefall at 120mph--plenty of time to do back-flips, docking procedures, AND enjoy the view! Later that day, I took my final, Level 8 class and graduated from the course! I am a proud, novice skydiver!
If this appeals to you (and I heartily recommend it!), find a drop zone near you by visiting the United States Parachute Association's Website. I LOVE my drop zone: Bay Area Skydiving. Check out their Tandem skydives. This is a great, inexpensive, THRILLING way to get a taste of this sport... You might just get hooked like I did! Let me know if you're local, and we'll go out there together (I'm there most Sundays)!
My other interests:
have been an avid bicyclist most of my life (touring and commuting). I am now a big
fan of recumbent bikes, and currently have several rides to choose from.
not bicycling, my choice of transport is motorcycling. My current ride, as
well as past steeds, can be found here.
especially the disciplines of telescope-making, deep-sky observing, film and CCD imaging.
I have been happily married now for eighteen years to lovely Marie-No, a native of Brittany, France, an ancient Celtic land. I added her last name to mine (Le Pennec) which means, appropriately enough, "stubborn head" in Breton, the native tongue of this part of France.
We have no children, but we had a lovebird named Slim... Now we have two Ring-necked Parakeets:
I am 54 years old; a cabinetmaker/finish carpenter foreman by trade. At left is a photo of myself with an observing chair I made from (modified) plans found in Phil Harrington's original StarWare book (there is a newer version out now).
A sampling of furniture I've made can be found here.
|Though I have been interested in astronomy most of my life, it wasn't until 1988 that I purchased my first 4" telescope. Looking to join a club, I soon found John Dobson. (I had heard of the Dobsonian, but I didn't realize John was a local hero). John taught me how to make a 10 1/2" sidewalk telescope, as well as a 6" Dobsonian Sun telescope (right).|
|Though I practice sidewalk astronomy here in San Francisco, I usually travel to a dark sky site near new moon time. I often travel three hours from The City to the Sierra foothills, to observe (lately I've been imaging with film and CCD equipment--see below link) and camp-out, with a few deep-sky buddies. Here is Steve Gottlieb, for example (my scope is in the background, on the left), at our favorite deep-sky site.|
|I am an
avid telescope maker. I have helped a number of folks with the carpentry skills required
for some of the inevitable complications which seem to arise. I maintain The San Francisco
Sidewalk Dobsonian Telescope Plans Website (below) and answer E-mail from folks around the
My own scopes include (at right): a truss-tube Dobsonian (17.5" Coulter mirror), complete with Takahashi 4" refractor and equatorial platform of my own construction. (Actually, I no longer have the Tak: a few years ago, I traded it and an Astro-Physics refractor for a motorcycle; but it's a killer photo, isn't it?).
At right was my first (1989) attempt at the truss design; the structure that formerly housed my 17.5" mirror.
Below is pictured my 13.1" telescope which collapses into a box making it "airline transportable." I have taken this scope to Hawaii twice. Plans for this scope are online. Here, you will also find advice--and links (my Dobsonian Evolution page)-- on more advanced designs.
Dark matter physics
Deep Sky Observing
Sprites and Jets
Scigg - Science news