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October 4, 2013

Flying high

Outdoor trapeze school sets up in Salem

October always brings the out-of-the-ordinary to Salem. This year, that includes an outdoor trapeze school.

The Fearless Flyers Academy set up in Leslie’s Retreat Park last month and is giving lessons through Halloween, weather permitting.

On a recent afternoon, joggers, families on bicycles and dog walkers paused to watch students climb a long ladder to a 22-foot-high platform and reach for the trapeze bar, taking direction from husband-and-wife owners Don and Ally Dinh.

Barks and yips from the nearby dog park mixed with the Dinhs’ coaching and classmates’ calls of encouragement to each other. The couple’s SUV, with a license plate that reads TRAPEZE, was parked nearby.

Don and Ally Dinh and Don’s brother, Lam Dinh, run the mobile school. Early in September, the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission voted to give Fearless Flyers permission to operate in Leslie’s Retreat Park through Nov. 1.

The Dinhs brought their business to Salem because they have students in the area and live in Peabody. Plus, what better time to come to Salem than October, Ally Dinh said.

“This is where we have ties; our trapeze family is here,” she said. “This is where we want to be.”

Leslie’s Retreat, which includes the city’s dog park, is a long, tree-lined park on the North River off Commercial and North streets.

The Dinhs’ trapeze rig is hard to miss — it’s 32 feet high at its tallest point and 60 feet long.

At night, they take down the net, ladder and other pieces, leaving only the poles. They stow some pieces in their car, and others are chained down and locked up, Ally said.

Stripping everything away after lessons eliminates any risk of people using the rig unsupervised, she said.

The couple have extensive backgrounds in teaching and athletics, from martial arts to acrobatics. They are both certified as Olympic-level trampoline coaches and judges.

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