Early in March and it’s a perfect morning to go flying. Marc Amenson would be the first to tell you, “No wind, had a couple of cups of coffee, my morning beef jerky. Ready to start the day.” Starting the day probably takes on a different meaning for Amenson than it does for me and you. His day starts early, when there is frost on the grass and a cold chill in the air. With a pull on the cord he throttles up what resemble a large fan with a gas can attached.
Amenson is ready to “start the day” and says, “Alright let’s do this. Every day is an adventure.” Adventure for Marc Amenson is strapping on a 50 pound fan and three gallons of gas. Amenson is a professional photographer and is using a power para-glider to elevate his pictures taking to new heights – literally. He fastens on the Go Pro, one of those mini cameras that can go just about anywhere and he lifts off.
From Calavera Springs Park in Suamico he gets a birds-eye view of the Green Bay area. Amenson said, “Right in this area I can see over to the bay, Tower Drive Bridge, Lambeau Field. You can see way up north all along the shoreline.” It’s a Wisconsin Public Television program that got him hooked on an idea. He said, “Flying over my favorite parts of Wisconsin, going Up North and flying along the rivers and you know getting those cool videos like Wisconsin from the Air. It’s the ultimate freedom. It’s the coolest feeling in the world. The sky’s the limit. You can go wherever you want.” It sounds spectacular but sometimes it might be one of the scariest feelings in the world.
Amenson told us about his first flight. It too happened at Calavera Springs Park and it was on a practice run when he didn’t really intend to take off. Amenson explains it like this, “Everything locked in and I could feel myself lifting off of the ground. There was a tower in front of me to the right. It was kind of drawing me in and all of a sudden there’s something in front of you. You want to avoid it but you go straight towards it. It was a little terrifying.” A little terrifying might be an understatement after you hear what happened next. Amenson missed the tower but was heading directly towards a tree line. Amenson explains what happened next, “It didn’t move the way I wanted it which brought me kind of close to some trees. My heart was pounding about a sixty miles an hour it was pretty crazy. I just took a couple of deep breaths. I was able to turn around and get right back to where I took off.” Back on the ground safely and after high-fives from his brothers Amenson thought, “I’m selling this because that was the craziest moment of my entire life. I was very thankful to be back onto the ground.”
Amenson’s wife Shayna witnessed it all. She has had concerns about his safety and still gets a little anxious when she watches her husband fly.
The Amenson’s hope to incorporate views from the power-paraglider into their professional photography business. On this afternoon, Marc, Shayna and their kids are on the go for a magazine shoot are a newly opened custard shop. Shayna helps with props and lighting as Amenson flashes his picture perfect smile to his subjects saying, “One two three right here, lean toward me a little bit good right there, perfect.” And the fact that it’s at a custard shop is all the better. “This is the best shoot ever, I love ice cream.”
After dimer. Amenson is off again this time to teach a night course as a photography instructor at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College. It’s a night where the lesson is time lapse photography. It starts by dipping steel wool attached to an egg beater into gasoline and that’s when you hear Amenson say, “Wick’s ready? Cameras ready?” before lighting it on fire. As night falls you can hear Amenson say, “Ready, set, go, running, spinning, running, spinning. Running, spinning, running, spinning.” As he races across the field spinning fire on a string. And the pictures are spectacular as the shutter turns a burning egg beater into a circle of flames. Amenson’s advice to his students, “Rock out baby! That’s awesome.”
After a day of high adventure Amenson saved the best for last. Pulling out a box of sparklers he instructs his students to light them one by one and form a letter with the burning sparkler. The time lapse photography reveals W-P-T for Wisconsin Public Television. An image invisible to the naked eye but crystal clear in a picture frozen in time. It was an ending to a picture perfect day and a glimpse into the life of Marc Amenson. He told his students, “Man this has been an exciting, if you guys would have seen how this day started. I’m not going to tell you what happened but maybe one day.
When you have every nerve and cell in your body tingling from doing something crazy it’s the most electric feeling in the world. This day is better than the last. And every day is a ten. I have been blessed with an amazing life.”