Zip line worker gets students to take their leap of faith

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Roberto Hodge | The Daily Eastern News James Rhea, one of the workers for A Moon Jump 4-U instructs students about riding the zipline.

Roberto Hodge, Multicultural Editor

Standing at 30 feet in the air, with a 220-foot ride down is the longest mobile zip- line in the world.

With enthusiasm, James Rhea, the owner’s son, coaxed people to make the jump or step all the way down Saturday night during Quakin’ in the Quad.

“You’ve got to have fun when you’re up here,” Rhea said with a smile.

Currently a senior marketing major at the University of Wisconsin-Green-Bay, Rhea said if he is freaking out or if the worker sending the riders down the slide is nervous, the riders could be psyched out of going down.

Rhea’s attitude would shine whenever students refused to jump. He would joke with them saying he would either push them off or say “Buh-bye,” altering his voice to sound comical.

The students would often look at Rhea with a freaked-out expression, but he would respond with a warm smile, chuckling.

Even though Rhea seemed to utterly enjoy sending everyone down the slide, he does not like heights, but enjoys riding zip lines.

Rhea said there was a time when he had paratroopers from Vietnam, and because of what they did for a living they were fearless jumpers. He said they just jumped without instructions in the same way they did as Paratroopers.

“I’ve seen so many things, nothing stands out to me anymore,” Rhea said.

The maximum weight a person can be on the zip line is 250 pounds, but the line itself was set for 1,800, Rhea said.

Rhea said the speed at which the sliders are going is dependent on their weight, but his father, Steve Rhea, said the riders were going at about 27 mph.

Steve Rhea, the owner of A Moon Jump 4-U “AMJ Spectacular Events,” said he started the company in 2001.

Steve Rhea was a pharmacist when began building the business, which he said is a passion of his and also helps create jobs.

“I make a better living doing this than pharmacy,” Steve Rhea said.

Steve Rhea said his business was doing so well when it was starting, that it was growing when everything else in the economy was hurting.

The company holds more than 400 inflatables, and Steve Rhea also fixes inflatables as part of his business, he said.

However, as with any carnival ride, safety precautions have to be taken.

Steve Rhea said the wires are connected to a decelerator and when the wires on the ground are angled down, the doors stay shut and the switch to open the doors stays locked.

Steve said when it comes to safety there are also a lot of redundancies. Two hook-lines connect the zip-liners to the main wire and a spring at the end of the wire absorbs the impact of stopping.

The family also has a drone that is controlled through an iPhone app by Steve Rhea’s other son, Colin Rhea.

Colin Rhea said a 32GB card in the drone saves photos and videos, which is user friendly. He also said users should watch an instructional video fully to explain everything there is to know about the drone.

The videos Colin Rhea takes with the drone can be shot up to 1080p and posted to Facebook, but must be downloaded to a computer.

The family said the drone cost about $1,000 and the zip line, which was designed in California, cost about $100,000.

Roberto Hodge can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]