Sunday, July 11, 2010


Yesterday I went skydiving.  A friend sent me an email this evening asking if it was "tandem" or "solo."  There might be some pictures up on my facebook wall... I don't know for sure because I'm still off facebook until I get back from up north.  

Here's my answer to my friend's question:
No, it wasn't tandem. It was solo. Because of that the jump was preceded by a 6 hour class.

The most frightening part was the teaching on "parachute malfunctions." It was impressed on us over and over again that we could die or be in a wheelchair for the rest of our lives and it was basically up to us to keep ourselves safe... but there were no guarantees. There were many possible malfunctions... we did carry reserve chutes but there are no guarantees with them either. Only at the end of the malfunctions part of the class did the instructor tell us that he had never even needed to use his reserve chute in 600+ jumps and he remains terrified of how he would react if he ever needed to do so...

Fortunately after the class there was too much wind so we needed to wait awhile before the jump. Fortunately I was in the third of four Cessna planeloads so I could watch other chutes successfully open and watch other novice jumpers land without crashing or breaking anything. Fortunately the radio worked so someone from the ground could coach us all on what to do "in flight." My nephews went on the planeload before my son Dan and I but I did jump before him. Bragging rights!

The door opened, I put one hand on a wing strut and, with help from the jump master, got my feet positioned on the front edge of the "step" in the 100 mph wind. Then, on his command, I climbed out on my own near the end of the strut, let my feet fly in the wind as I hung on, saw him signal to "go" and I did... that's when I lost control and, for all intents and purposes, CONSCIOUSNESS for like 1 second or less... totally forgetting everything I was supposed to do, having terrible form and totally panicking until the chute caught me... my poor performance created twisted parachute lines...

But thanks to the grace of God and trustworthy (non-postmodern) physics, they untwisted on their own--kind of like happens when kids are on swings they have wound up.  I then proceeded to get one of my hands twisted in the "toggle." That's what we jumpers ;-) hang onto to steer the chute. I worked my hand out and finally got it put in correctly... and then totally enjoyed the rest of the flight and landing.

I don't know how long the flight down took, but it felt like almost 10 minutes. The chute was huge and slow and very fun to fly. I could control where I wanted to go. Great engineering, great view of the Wisconsin countryside near Chippewa Falls.  I felt like a bird.

Next time I'll know what to do, I think, to get through the panicked moment of letting go...

Peace to you in Jesus' name.
The parallels between my life and the life of others in Cokato and that jump are uncannily precise. Even on that same day others were taking huge steps of faith... on the way back from skydiving I got a phone message confirming that.  Amazing.  I am so thankful!

God calls us to follow Him in faith EVERY day.  Pray that I, and we, will share the same level of courage and trust the Lord for all things.  He will catch us--even if it takes awhile for things to untwist and become clear.

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad you landed safely! But it also sounds like a lot of fun... :) I love you, Dad!