Odds & Ends: Can You Teach Yourself To Fly?

Odds & Ends: Can You Teach Yourself To Fly?

Devin D. O'Leary
5 min read
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Dateline: England— A first-time paraglider almost became a paraplegic after breaking his back in two places trying to fly a machine he bought for 300 pounds (about $440) on eBay. Roy Dixon didn’t take any lessons on how to use the unpowered airplane, but he did watch several clips on the Internet. “I should have joined a club and got lessons,” the 45-year-old told BBC News. “But I was trying to teach myself and learn from bits I had seen on YouTube.” Speaking from Newcastle General Hospital after the incident, Dixon admitted he had been “quite foolish” for tethering the bargain-basement plane to his car like a kite and attempting to get some air near his home in Hexham, Northumberland. “The thing you should never do—which I did—was tether it to a solid object.” Dixon and his paraglider spent less than a minute in the air before plunging to the earth. “I went shooting up in the air, then banged down on the ground. Then I went up again,” Dixon said. “As I was dropping, I was thinking, This is serious.” Dixon broke two of his vertebrae, which may need to be fused.

Dateline: Canary Islands— A beach near Las Palmas on Gran Canaria hosted the world’s largest beach towel last week. A team of 25 spent 15 days making the towel. More than 50 people were needed just to unroll it on the beach. Guinness World Records confirmed the towel’s gigantic proportions, noting that more than 1,000 people registered to spend the day lounging on the 2,240-square-meter towel. The titanic towel tops one unfurled in Cyprus two years ago.

Dateline: Washington— Some business owners in East Spokane are offing a $1,000 reward for information on the person who stole a $20 rubber doormat out from under their business’ main entrance. Owners of Now Advanced Metal Technologies told KREM-TV they are just angry over the fact that they were robbed and don’t want to take it lying down. A video camera, installed after several previous break-in attempts at the business, captured images of the thief checking out the entrance and then making off with the doormat. The owner is hoping the thief’s friends will turn him in for the reward money.

Dateline: Connecticut— Thomas Peno was already in Rockville Superior Court to answer a larceny charge for stealing a GPS unit and trying to sell it back to its owner. Those charges, apparently, weren’t enough for the career criminal. Police say Peno used a court recess to go buy a bottle of vodka, drink it in front of the courthouse and then start breaking into cars in the parking lot. According to the Hartford Courant, the 51-year-old Peno was arrested by judicial marshals for being drunk and disorderly as soon as he returned to court. Moments later, one of the victims of the car burglaries walked into the courtroom and identified Peno. At that point, Peno tried to make a run for it but was stopped and detained until police arrived. Peno’s latest arrest, which took place on Wednesday, June 9, was his 40 th . He was arraigned the next day—in the same courthouse, even—on burglary, larceny and breach of peace charges.

Dateline: Iowa— He’s just so punchable. A man who called police to report getting punched while walking along an Iowa City pedestrian mall got punched by a different man as he talked to 911 dispatchers. Police said the man, whose name was not released, told police dispatchers that he had just been assaulted in the 100 block of East College and was following the person who did it. While the victim was speaking with officers, another man—believed to be a friend of the original assailant—walked up and punched the victim, knocking him to the ground. The victim was treated at University of Iowa Hospitals for minor injuries to the head.

Dateline: Arizona— A Yuma man who didn’t want to do jury duty will very likely see the inside of a courtroom anyway. Court records show Timothy Michael Jones was sent a jury summons last month telling him he had been randomly selected as a prospective juror. Jones allegedly used a black marker to cover his jury questionnaire with obscenities, then mailed it back. Jones was ordered to appear in court on Tuesday, June 8, to explain why he returned the questionnaire with what the YumaSun described as “a vulgar statement in big letters.” Jones failed to show and Yuma County Superior Court Judge Andrew Gould issued a bench warrant. Jones now faces a charge of indirect criminal contempt, which could result in six months of jail time and a fine of up to $300.

Compiled by Devin D. O'Leary. E-mail your weird news to devin@alibi.com.

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