Chronicles of COVID-19: Mark Langenfeld

Monday, April 13, 2020

Name: Mark Langenfeld


Role (if any) at Wisconsin Skydiving Center: To the extent, I had a “role,” it was as the resident weather maven. I’d try to keep an eye on the skies and various on-line forecasting tools to try to keep WSC regulars from getting hit by lightning or blown into Lake Koshkonong — things like that. (The risk in doing that is getting known as “Negative Nancy. “ Oh well, you can’t please all the people all the time.)

I was also a representative of the “old school” element, having started skydiving back in 1969. Some would say that also means a cranky, old curmudgeon.  Guilty, as charged.


Where Do You Currently Live?: Monticello, WI (near New Glarus — lots of really good beer and cheese around here!).
Mark Langenfeld skydives

What kind of work do you do? How has your job been affected in light of COVID-19?

I am now past ten years of retirement, so I do as little work as possible. It’s likely a sad commentary on my lifestyle, but the COVID-19 pandemic protocols have had very little impact on my day-to-day routines.

 

What have you been doing to occupy your time during the quarantine?

Reading. I read a ton (have four books going right now). People should read more. Entertainment is … well … entertaining.  Reading is enriching. We also walk our 15-year-old shepherd/husky mix almost daily along the local trail system, and I practice on a very effective social distancing tool: my banjo.


There have been many negatives related to the coronavirus. What have been the silver linings?

We have become complacent and mentally lazy. We are absorbed by the trivial, and demand stuff we only think we need. With luck, this episode may help us focus on what’s important and meaningful, and demonstrate how little we really need to be happy and fulfilled. I say this because we humans have characteristically short memories. Please pay attention, people — these lessons have come at a great cost!

Mark flies his orange, skydiving parachute

Has the coronavirus revealed things you once took for granted that you now appreciate?

The quiet. It’s usually pretty quiet where we live out here in the country, but it’s even more quiet now. Really quiet — just the wind and the birds.  It’s really a lovely thing that is vastly underappreciated.

 

What are you most looking forward to doing (outside of skydiving of course) when you get on the other side of the quarantine?

I had plans to get signed off for gas (helium/hydrogen) ballooning, part of which got shelved at the beginning of the outbreak. The balloon rating I earned in 1995 has a hot-air (airborne heater only) restriction, and I need one more gas flight to get that restriction removed from my certificate.  If things settle down, we plan to go to Germany later this year for a couple of gas flights (maybe one overnighter).

 

What’s your secret superpower that few people know about?

OK, this is kinda weird, but I can (could) levitate. No, not the stupid hopping around on your butt thing the meditation gurus were selling, but the real thing. I discovered I could do this when I was five or six years old — just lifting right off the ground by thinking about it — right up to the ceiling.  But once I discovered that was all — that I couldn’t actually go flying around like superman — I kind of lost interest and quit doing it. I started again when I was about fourteen, and got pretty good at it. I could get high enough (maybe thirty feet) that I started scaring myself. But it was much harder than when I was a little kid, and I would get awful migraine-like headaches for a couple of days afterward. The last time I did it was maybe ten years ago, and I’m not sure I could anymore. But it was a pretty amazing thing.

Okay, seriously — I can’t levitate.  Lynn has all the superpowers in this household.

What are one to three books that have greatly influenced your life? 

Three?  Maybe 300.  For this crowd, I’d have to say Bud Sellick’s book SKYDIVING from the early 1960s. I wore the covers off that book.

 

What is the most useful thing you own under $100?

Nine tens, a five and four singles.

 

What is an unusual habit or an absurd thing that you love?

Life! If it isn’t absurd and unusual, it isn’t worth living!

A lady smiles while in free fall during a tandem skydive at Wisconsin Skydiving Center near Milwaukee, WI

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