Published: Wednesday, June 09, 2010
Perkasie News Herald
By Bob Keeler
The first time Ann Habicht jumped out of an airplane was in 2007.
That tandem jump, strapped to an experienced parachutist, led to an urge to do more skydiving – and, ultimately, is bringing about one of the biggest leaps in life.
Although she wanted to take skydiving lessons, there was no place to get the lessons in her home state where Habicht will next year finish up veterinary pre-med courses at South Dakota School of Mining & Technology.
Last Christmas, though, her boyfriend, Joe Baker, of Perkasie, got the two of them skydiving lessons at Pennridge Airport.
Each of them now has more than a dozen jumps in since starting their training in May. The one on May 29 may turn out to be the most memorable.
As the airplane door was opened above Pennridge High School to begin to get ready for the skydive, Habicht and an instructor surveyed the land below.
“He was pointing out some landing sites and all,” Baker said.
But landing sites weren’t the only thing to be seen. Unbeknownst to Habicht, Baker had also laid out a marriage proposal on a sign large enough to be read from the airplane.
“It took me a minute to figure out it was for me,” Habicht said.
“By that time, I had time to get the ring out and get down on one knee,” Baker said.
“I love you. Will you marry me?” he asked.
“I didn’t really think about it. If I thought about it, I would’ve said something else,” Baker said.
Those were the right words, though.
Habicht said yes. The couple had talked about getting married, she said, so the proposal wasn’t a big surprise, but the way it was done was surprising.
“It definitely was a shock. I had no idea it was coming that day,” Habicht said.
Details for the wedding haven’t been set yet, but it will be in South Dakota next May or June, Habicht said.
And, no, it won’t be in freefall.
“It’s not gonna be a skydiving wedding, but it’ll have some unique edge that’ll be a secret,” Baker said.
In the more immediate future, the two are part of a group heading out on a summer tour for LiveOffensively.com, a Christian youth program that Baker operates.
“Really, it’s a campaign encouraging students to move their faith to action,” said Baker, who on a recent day was wearing one of the group’s T-shirts, reading “Monogamy: Call me old school but I still believe in it.”
The tour includes crossing the country twice with 15 festival stops, Baker said.
“We’re already looking for places to skydive between events,” he said.
Skydiving isn’t the couple’s first love, though.
“We’re rock climbers. We climb all over the world,” said Baker, who owns a rock climbing company in Wyoming.
There are some big differences between skydiving and rock climbing, he said, including that rock climbing depends on muscles and a slow climb, while skydiving is quicker and relies on having your body in the right position.
“You just have to arc your body correctly and fly correctly. It’s like you’re a wing,” Baker said.
The two sports could be combined in base jumps from a wall, but that’s the most dangerous kind of skydiving because the jump is much shorter than one from an airplane, giving little time to react if things don’t go right, he said.
It will be a few more years before the couple has enough skydiving experience to be able to take on that kind of a jump, he said.
With other changes coming along, it’s hard to say right now if she’ll be taking on base jumps when that time does come, Habicht said.
“I always thought it would be cool, but who knows?” she said.
Although they now enjoy skydiving, the first few jumps had them wondering if it was a sport for them, Baker and Habicht said.
“If I didn’t fully pay for the course, I probably would have quit,” Baker said. “The third dive, the guy had to shove me out the door” of the plane.
The first three jumps were the hardest for her, too, Habicht said.
“After that, I got really comfortable with it,” she said.
“Today, I dived out of the plane, no problem,” Baker said after about a dozen jumps.
The tarps used in the proposal cover about 10,000 square feet, he said.
In order to keep the secret, the tarps were initially stored at a friend’s home, but now they’re taking up a lot of space in Baker’s garage, and that leads to an opportunity for other romantics. “If anyone is interested in proposing, my tarps are for sale,” Baker said.