Thursday, May 21, 2009

My Sky Dive Experience

May 18, 2009, yours truly finally accomplished his goal of parachuting, as they say, out of a perfectly operating airplane. Ironically it was exactly one year ago that I had scheduled a dive with hiking friends: Gary Fabiano and Silver Wilkie. The day before, I was guiding a group from the club to four peaks in the Tombstone area. While attempting the final climb of the day I fell and dislocated my right shoulder. It was a painful experience. The next day Roxanna drove me to Eloy to be with Gary and Silver to cheer them on. They both accomplished it and thoroughly enjoyed the drop.
Gary promised to go again with me. He left town for the summer and it took quite awhile before I had confidence in using my right arm. We would talk about it from time to time until finally we agreed on a date. Ursula Pillar was going to join us. At the last moment Gary had to cancel because of an appointment with his eye surgeon and Ursula decided not to go as she was preparing for a visit to Germany to visit her daughter. That left just me with Roxanna as the driver when lo and behold Mike Harris said he would join us and video tape my drop. This was important as he is a skilled sky diver with 230 drops to his credit. Having his quiet confidence was calming to me.
Actually I was never scared. I looked at it no differently than a person putting confidence in a physician and allowing him to do whatever is required. Sky Diving is no different. I should explain that I was not parachuting by myself, it is called tandem. I was strapped in front of a fine young man. His name is Jason Sanders. He like the others takes people like me up five or six times every day. They know what they are doing. I had complete confidence that it would be a thrill which I would live to tell about.
The airport is named, Sky Dive Arizona, located in Eloy, about forty miles North of Tucson. It is world famous. There were teams from the Air Force Academy practicing on the same day. We remember, a year ago there was a large group from Asia. I checked in at 9: 30 AM, watched a video and then signed documents holding them and the rest of the world blameless in case of injury or death for any reason. This was the worst part as they described the various things that could go wrong. We made friends with three young students who would be jumping with me. Our turn came at 11:30 when we met our instructor. We stepped into our harness which was adjusted to fit but not tightened, then at noon we were led to an open wagon, climbed on next to our instructor and driven to the airplane. I was first on which meant that we were the last to jump and the last to land. As we reached 13,000 ft. we unbuckled our seat belts and for the first time Jason pulled me to him hooking up the clamps and tightening the straps until we were essentially one person. We hitched our way closer to the door until there were no more people. He shoved me to the opening, grabbed the bar and swung out the door. At 120 miles per hour, that is quite a rush. After dropping 3,000 ft. he signaled it was time for me to pull the rip cord. I pulled, but I was also aware of his hand on mine making sure it was done sharply. We were pulled upwards and then started our gradual descent. He put my hands on the control rings so I could move from side to side. It was then he asked if I liked Roller Coasters. I replied no. If I had said yes he would have had us tumbling about. I had absolutely no interest in doing that, so we just floated quietly to earth. At about three thousand feet he took the rings from me so he could assure a safe landing on the grassy area in front of the Academy. I held my legs up so he could land on his feet. We did but then I sat down. He got me up and released me at which time I started towards Roxanna and Mike. I felt dizzy but did not get sick. The pressure on my ears just wouldn’t release for quite awhile afterwards. We treated Mike to lunch and returned home.
Just another bucket list item checked off.

Jack B. Walters
3961 N. Hillwood Circle
Tucson, AZ 85750
(520) 722-2958
May 20, 2009

No comments: