Our writer learns to fly, Poppins style

Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird … it’s a plane … it’s me?!

OK, maybe not the sky but several feet up in the air off the Turner Pavilion stage. Since I’ll likely never be performing on it, why not go above it when given the chance?

With the aid of a harness, several reliable stagehands and the flying effects equipment of ZXF Inc., I got as close to flying as a human can get without wings or a jet pack as the equipment was being used for the Springfield Arts Council and Springfield Civic Theatre’s production of “Disney and Cameron Mackintosh’s ‘Mary Poppins.’ ”

I’d seen the cast of “The Wizard of Oz” do the flying effects in 2013 and thought it looked like a blast.

Not everybody would agree. Heights are one of the top fears, but the crew from ZXF Inc. does 600-700 events a year requiring flight with movie credits such as “The Hangover Part III,” a recent Capital One commercial with Jennifer Garner that people thought was done CGI and shows such as “America’s Got Talent.”

Poppins cast member Mindy White’s flight experience caused her to shout, “That was so cool!”

The harness is similar to those for repelling or rock climbing, which I’d done for a similar interactive story exactly 20 years ago. Some writers will go to a lot of lengths for a story.

Jeff McLeid of ZXF said as far as the harness goes the fit goes, uncomfortable is good and painful is bad.

I don’t mind suffering for a good story. The fit was restrictive and made you feel more like a cowboy in the saddle too long.

But any discomfort disappeared as soon as my feet left the ground. It goes slow at first, but eventually I found myself several feet off the ground and in what they call rarified air.

I had complete trust in the guys on the ground. After all, even if I did meet with some unfortunate splat on the stage I would have still had a great story … after I got out of the coma.

Flying this way is exactly what you’d like it to be. You can see people from above, and you’re just kind of floating. I didn’t want to come down.

I did a few back-and-forth moves; no flips or anything like that but enough to not just hang there.

So having flown, so to speak, I now have to wonder what the next step up is. I’m not sure about space flight. Shot out of a canon, maybe? I can think of a few people who’d line up for that chance to light it.

While the area between my thighs and hips are a little sore the morning after, it’s offset by the fact I got to do what few humans have — fly.

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Contact this contributing writer at bturner004@woh.rr.com.

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