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NPR Arts & Life

A Flying Baby From An Iconic Photo Grows Up

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Perhaps you've seen her pinging around the Internet, a six-month-old baby in a purple jumpsuit in midair. She's being heaved across a yawning gap between two giant boulders by her precariously perched mother towards the waiting arms of her father. Actually, maybe, you shouldn't look. It's heart-stopping.

JORDAN LEADS: My name is Jordan Leads, and I am 27 years old.

SIMON: Jordan Leads is the airborne baby all grown up. She landed safely in the arms of her father that day, and the moment was photographed by Greg Epperson at Joshua Tree National Park back in 1991. It first appeared publicly four years later in a Patagonia catalog. And now it's been given a new life in the current catalogue, along with an update about Jordan.

LEADS: I am currently going to school to be a court reporter. I live in Las Vegas, Nev.

SIMON: She says the photo of her flying over a gap in the boulders was just one of many outdoorsy shots that hung on the walls of her parents' house. She enjoys seeing Photoshopped versions these days, like her infant self leaping with a pod of dolphins, being hurled out of a cannon or punted by a kicker on a football field.

LEADS: Another one - there's a guy that's juggling chainsaws, and I'm also being juggled. And then - oh, OK, also the dinosaur where my parents are feeding me to a "Jurassic Park" dinosaur, I think that's the best (laughter).

SIMON: Perhaps surprisingly in this era of Internet trolls, Jordan Leads says her parents didn't get a lot of public scolding for playing catch with their daughter at high altitudes. She says she knows of no calls to child protective services. And that early moment of flight among the boulders might have instilled some joy. Jordan Leads has become a rock climber and still occasionally climbs with her father. And she hopes to continue the tradition.

LEADS: I can't wait to show it to my kids one day and to show them how I was growing up, how my parents raised me and to really just bring that whole family value of going outside back to them. And I think it's so important to get outside. And these days, everyone is so lost in their own world. And I really think that they just need to get outside with their family and that that's what creates memories.

SIMON: Some day, she says, she may even try to re-enact the photo.

LEADS: I would put mine up on the wall, and then I could put my child's right next to it in our hallway. And, yeah, I would love to do that. I think that would be really cool.

SIMON: Former flying baby Jordan Leads. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.