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It was through Dan Thames, that I met Jim McGraw (An AFFI @ SDD).

Both of these men are Amazing!

Dan flies wing-suits (see previous post). And Jim (& his wife!) do “Canopy Relative Work” (CReW), as shown.

Jim is second row from top, under red, white, & blue canopy.JimMcGraw (CReW 20-way)

I mean.. Seriously… How cool is that!?

But not just that… They’re both so kind, generous, and caring…

Routinely investing their personal time, to help less experienced skydivers, for no benefit of their own.

It’s a privilege to talk to either of them.

But they do have their differences.

Having made the decision to get my A-license (in November, in Ohio), it meant I had a long winter ahead.

I knew I was going to be jumping out of “perfectly good airplanes” when spring finally sprung.

And I knew I knew nothing about it.

So I wanted to learn.

Screen Shot 2015-06-21 at 8.40.40 PMI bought books and videos. And I read, and I watched.

You can’t learn how to skydive by reading a book (Obviously!), but you can learn something.

And that’s where it got interesting.

And a little scary.

In a new way.

Asking for advice, lead to some unexpected results.

Jim (and many others, in online forums) were quite adamant… “Don’t read! And don’t watch videos! Just wait! And listen to your instructor!”

Others (like Dan) sympathized… They’d researched similarly themselves, while waiting to get started on their own A-licenses.

Screen Shot 2015-06-21 at 10.03.05 PMThe thing is… Opinions are everywhere.

And it’s easy it is to find someone that thinks like you do, or that tells you something you want to hear.

So are you really researching, or are you looking for encouragement?

It’s a dangerous sport.

I’m not saying what’s right or what’s wrong.Screen Shot 2015-06-11 at 12.55.43 AM

That’s up to every man to decide for himself.

Please be careful though.

Your life is in your own hands… Sometimes…

But your mind calls the shots… Always.



Whuffo. Noun – A person who is not a skydiver. From the often-asked question; “Whuffo you jump out of them perfectly good airplanes?”

Every skydiver knows this terminology. But the question is still valid…

Why? Why jump out of a perfectly good airplane?

I mean… Who does that!? Are they nuts!? Do they have a death wish!?

If you asked 100 skydivers you’d probably get 100 different answers.

But for some, it’s been a dream since childhood.

When I asked Dan (see previous post) he sent me this video.
Skip to 2 minutes in.

This film is from 1969.

Flying “squirrel suits” (wing-suits) didn’t even exist in 1969.

This was pure fiction. But it captured Dan’s mind.

Dan (like many before him) wished he could fly.

The fantasy of flight has captured the minds of men, for more than a millennia.

Screen Shot 2016-03-14 at 9.28.12 PMMeet Monk Eilmer of Malmesbury.

In his hands he’s holding a miniature model of a wing suit he built for himself in the 11th century!

He strapped it to himself and jumped off the Malmesbury Abbey in Wiltshire, England.

He flew for more than a furlong [201 meters; 15 sec] before breaking both his legs upon landing.

And sadly he was lame ever after.

Screen Shot 2016-03-14 at 9.16.27 PMIf anything happens to me…
If I ever “go in” (as they say)…
You can blame Spiderman.

I loved that guy.

Flying around, with strings in his hands.

Being awesome.

It isn’t me in this photo btw. It’s a canopy piloting ninja.
All credit for this image goes to Parachutist magazine.

Driving to the Airport.

My biggest fear, at the time I met Dan (see previous post), was landing. Flying a canopy, for the first time alone. And landing.

Well… Dan fixed that.

Not by reducing that fear. But by explaining another one, far more sinister…

“Driving to the airport.”

scared_c182(w chris 1st tandem)When you know nothing about skydiving… You know that you know nothing about skydiving.

And you know that… while you’re driving yourself to the airport… to go skydiving.

People die skydiving!

They get seriously injured. And killed.

But you still have to drive yourself to the airport… knowing you know nothing about skydiving… to go skydiving.

The mind doesn’t like that.
The mind doesn’t like that at all.


I forget Dan’s exact words, of what his mind told him, while “Driving to the airport” (for at least the first several jumps), but it went something like this…

Dan! Dan!? What are you doing!? You have a wife at home that needs you! You have a job! What if you get injured!? People DIE doing this! This is crazy. You want to learn how to FLY? Seriously!? Fly!? You’re 54 years old! This is ridiculous! You should turn around! There’s no shame in just turning around. Turn the car around, and go back home, and stop all this nonsense.

And he was right! That’s exactly what your mind says for those initial jumps.

You just have to ignore it, while “Driving to the airport.”


How Old is Too Old?

Screen Shot 2015-06-11 at 12.55.43 AMI did my first tandem jump at 41 years old.

But if I was really going to take the leap, to become a “licensed skydiver…”

How old was too old to start?

Researching, I found myself on dropzone.com.

And it was there I met Dan Thames (dthames).

When his mother was dying, she told him “Dan,
If there’s anything you want to get done in this world,
you better get on and do it. You’re not getting any younger.

dan_formatioOne of the things, he’d wished he could do, was fly those (flying squirrel) wing-suits.

He was 54 years old. And, by USPA standards, he’d need 200 skydives to even put one on.

Talking to him revealed a world I never knew.
There are people still jumping in their 80s.

Here’s an 82 year old lady, still jumping at the time of writing.

And an 88 year old man who was jumping until just recently.
Fatality 18 Ap 15 Elsinore

Screen Shot 2016-03-13 at 6.18.27 PMWhat an amazing thing to be able to do throughout your life;

Just throw yourself out of planes every now and then.

I mean seriously…

Who gets to do that?

Imagine telling your 70 (or 80) year-old friends:
I’m sorry. I can’t make it to Bob Evans on Saturday.
I’ll be jumping out of planes
 all day instead.”

There are people that get to say things like that.
They’re real. They live among us.


It Takes a Village.

wing_beautifulOne thing I heard, early on, was to tell everyone you know, “I’m going to be a skydiver!”

Not “I wish I could skydive.”

Or “I’d like to be able to skydive.”


“I’m going to be a skydiver!”

To my chagrin, this concept was familiar, because I smoke cigarettes.

If you plan to quit, pick a day, and tell everyone about it.

That way, if you fail, you fail in front of everyone, not just yourself.

tandemFortunately, in my case, the four tandems had spanned two months.

And the first one was booked a month in advance, for the Bachelor Party.

I’d been talking about skydiving for months already anyway.

And so it changed… from “I’m going skydiving,” to “I’m going to be a skydiver!”


A Winter Wonderland.

So… After 4 tandem jumps… I knew… I definitely knew… I thought I knew…. I hoped I knew… I wanted to learn how to skydive.

And the Drop Zone was closed, for the next 6 months.

What to do!?

I couldn’t do nothing. That was for sure.
Canopy_landing(scared)I wondered if I was too old.

I wondered if I was strong enough, agile enough, or brave enough.

I wondered how many people get killed trying to learn.

I wondered if I’d lost my mind!

And so the learning began.

In a winter wonder-land.


Tandem jumps, 2 thru 4.

head_downWhen I did my first tandem skydive, I thought something went wrong during free-fall.

I’d been promised a 30 second ride, and yet the parachute was above my head in 3-5 seconds.
At most.

I was sure of it.

I was kind-of pissed, to be honest, for a second,  when it opened so quickly.

Don’t get me wrong… I was super happy the canopy opened!… But still.. I’d saved my money… I’d waited and waited,,. I’d been rescheduled due to weather… I’d waited even more… And I only got a 3-5 second free-fall!?

I couldn’t believe it when I saw the video.

It was every bit of 30 seconds.

happy_canopy_openedAs strange as it sounds, time itself had somehow metamorphized into a twisted misconception of an almost alternate reality.
If that even makes sense.

Minutes were no longer minutes, and seconds were on longer seconds.

I was stunned.

I brought the topic up, to an experienced skydiver, in conversation, before tandem jump#2.

The reply was “It feels like forever for us.”

And I’m pretty sure, it was right there, right then, at that very second, I knew, I wanted to learn how to skydive.

thumbs_upAnd jump #2 was Amazing!

Both the the free-fall, and the canopy ride, lasted 5x as long. Easily. In my head.

My perception of the same events had altered. Somewhat. Somehow.

It was extraordinary.

Happy_In_The-PlaneBy my the fourth jump I even forgot how afraid I was in the plane… And I smiled.. For a second.

That didn’t happen again, for a while. But skydiving had officially begun.

These were baby steps, into a baby blue sky.

And then the drop zone closed for a six month Ohio winter.



Excited(cropped)During the weeks of waiting for my First Jump… I wasn’t afraid.

At the airport, the day of the jump, ready to take off… I wasn’t afraid.

By about 3,000 feet (in a Cessna 182)… I was scared stupid!

At 10,000 feet, with the plane door open, I was so afraid I could barely communicate at all.

The only words coming out of my mouth were “Damn” or “Shit.” And that seemed to be happening involuntarily.

Scared(door_open)croppedFortunately, we’d rehearsed stepping out of the plane while we were on the ground… “Step outside.  Hold on to the strut of the wing. And let go when the instructor says so.”

Sounds simple enough.

But… Nope!

I heard “Let Go!” and I couldn’t.

I heard “Let Go!” again, and realized I had lost control of my own fingers. I could see them, but they were like someone else’s fingers. And they were holding on to the plane.

I heard “Let Go!” yet again. And this time, (with the instructor tapping my hand) I finally concluded “We all have to die some time!” and I let go.

Scared_ShitlessNow the plan (until this point), as far as I knew it, was that when I let go, we’d start falling.

But no!

We stayed connected to the plane, and I was told to “Look at your buddy… Look at your buddy!”

And as I turned to look back into the plane, the instructor caught a momentary video clip, and a single photo… of Fear!

Thumbs-UpFrom the moment we were actually in free-fall, to the time the canopy opened, I couldn’t stop grinning.

Under canopy, doing 360’s, I was scared stupid again.

On the ground, I was back to grinning again.

It had been an emotional roller-coaster!

I booked my next jump that night.


First Jump.

One person I omitted to thank, in my last post, is Chris.

I met Chris when he was about 10 years old. He lived next door. He did odd jobs for pocket money. And he kept it hidden in a jar in his bedroom.

One day, someone stole the whole jar.

Chris showed up on our door-step, in tears.
We got him a new jar. And told him he could keep it at our place.

15 years later, he asked me to be the Best Man at his wedding.

So I had a Bachelor Party to plan! And strippers were forbidden by his fiancée. Even midget strippers. Doh!

These were desperate times, and they called for desperate measures.

Chris _&_Me_Skydiving(cropped)A little research revealed he’d never been in a plane before.

So, of course! I’d have him thrown out of one!

And… ROAST his ass (with a poem, even) at the wedding reception, in my speech.
What are friends for?

The GoPro, recording Chris’s jump, died climbing to altitude, otherwise I’d post that here.

Instead, I’ll include my video (You can still see Chris). Compiled and edited by The Ohio Skydiving Center.

Oh! And the ROAST is shown too!  The second video (below).
It goes on for a while, I know, but it’s a Best Man speech! “The BEST Best Man speech” according to the Bride.

And anyway… This is how I found myself in the sky. So it’s included here, for prosperity.

Take a moment and enjoy.

FIRST JUMP (Compilation)…

With a Facebook text version here.
And a drunk camera man.

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I know as much about skydiving, as I do about building websites.

And that’s precisely nothing!

So… to be adding my first post to a skydiving-related website, I have little more to say than… Thanks!

#1. To my wife. For her love and understanding.

#2. To my Dad. For the hours of uploading & downloading (& so much more).

#3. To Websitesource.com. For all the tech support on the phone.

#4. To The Ohio Skydiving Center. Words can’t describe.

Thanks!And a bunch of others too… Dan & Jim in Dallas, Lulu in Swansea, Darcel in New Orleans…  Tara, Chris, Tom, Mike, Andy (& others) in Columbus… I can’t name enough names. So many people have been so kind and supportive.

So to all of you that have helped so far… THANKS! Thanks very much. Really.