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If you're looking for Bob Frothingham, look up in the sky [Marriottsville/Sykesville/Woodstock]

FitnessSkydivingAnglicanismChristianityChesapeake Bay Bridge

A Type T Personality is defined as one who pursues risks through potentially dangerous activities or behaviors. We typically visualize thrill-seekers as young or middle-aged, but in truth, no age limit exists for the Type T.

Enter Bob Frothingham, 93-year-old World War II veteran and flying enthusiast. Frothingham began farming in Sykesville in 1957, and although he no longer works the land, he still lives on the family farm with Libby, his wife of 41 years. Two of their children also live in homes on the property. "Bob is the only daredevil" though, says Libby.

Farming seems like a pretty conservative profession, but Frothingham has practiced an adventurous hobby — skydiving. He completed more than 300 jumps by the time he took his last, on his 75th birthday. Although Libby promised him one more jump on his 95th birthday, his doctors will probably not give him clearance. Part of the issue is that he does not want to tandem dive with another experienced diver; he wants to go solo.

Even if another jump is not possible, Frothingham does have a second outlet for his daredevil tendencies — flying. For many years, he owned two ultralight planes, single-seat aircraft used for recreational purposes. Because of limited mobility, he can no longer climb into most aircraft, but two of Frothingham's daughters and a son-in-law thought of a clever way to overcome this obstacle.

For Frothingham's birthday in February, the family members gifted him with a certificate to Chesapeake Sport Pilot, at the Bay Bridge Airport in Stevensville, so that he could ride in a gyroplane.

Like a helicopter, a gyroplane has a rotor instead of fixed wings, can travel as slowly as 20 mph (cruising speed is around 80 mph), and has a short take-off and landing. However, a gyroplane pilot cannot control the rotor as in a helicopter, and they fly the plane with a stick and rudder, the same as a fixed-wing aircraft.

The gyroplane cannot stall and is thus quite safe. Since it sits low to the ground, occupants can climb in using only a step stool.

Unfortunately, because of the long stretch of poor weather this spring, Frothingham was not able to take his flight until June 2.

On that day, eight family members accompanied him to the airport to watch — and help. Libby Frothingham joked that it took four people to get him into the gyroplane and six to get him back out! In the end, he was thrilled with his flight and delightedly showed off photos to the rest of his exercise class at Glenwood Community Center. Family members are already planning another excursion for him in the fall.

Of course, Bob Frothingham is also still holding out hope for that last skydiving jump. Keep us posted, Bob!

Good news from across the river — Sykesville Main Street is one of more than 100 North American Main Streets nominated for the Benjamin Moore Main Street Matters contest. Twenty winning towns will each get a facelift, courtesy of Benjamin Moore Paints and its partner organizations.

You can help Sykesville win this opportunity by voting once every day until June 30 at http://www.paintwhatmatters.com. The other Maryland nominees are Cambridge, Ellicott City and Takoma Park. Naturally, it would be wonderful to see both Ellicott City and Sykesville as winners in this contest. Let's put out the vote for our local towns!

On June 27, the Howard County Conservancy will host one of its most popular events of the year, Fiddlers and Fireflies, from 6 to 9 p.m., at 10520 Old Frederick Road (Route 99), in Woodstock. The cost is $10 per vehicle, payable at the gate only.

Bring a picnic dinner, blanket or chairs, and come out to watch the fireflies flicker in the tall grass while Steve Hickman's bluegrass band fiddles away. The event will feature special activities for kids. For more information, go to http://www.hcconservancy.org or call 410-465-8877.

St. Andrew's Episcopal Church will hold its next community feast on June 27, 6 to 8 p.m., at 2892 Route 97. The menu this month is Italian, and the cost remains $9 per person or $30 maximum per family. To learn more, email lynnequinn@comcast.net or call 410-442-5445.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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