Sky Diving Adventure

Sky diving at Hampton Airport, Stanton, MN, July 31st, 1991.

Did the Minnesota Skydivers Club program. (The other outfit has had too many fatalities for my comfort.) If you want to skydive in one trip, it is necessary to do a tandem jump. That means you are strapped to an instructor and you share a parachute.

I went with my co-worker from Network Systems, the late Nick Reller, on a Saturday. We took the required half-day class. Learned how to shape our bodies like a bowl and how to pull the rip cord for 4 hours. Also signed and initialed 4 pages of liability releases. Alas, the weather was too bad, so we had to come back on the following Tuesday after work. Our jump was at Hampton Airport.

It was a beautiful summer evening. I think we left the plane about 6pm. Flew to 10,500 feet, with 6 people in the plane; pilot, photographer, Nick and his instructor, me and my instructor. I paid $75 extra to have my jump photographed and taped. Any time I want to re-live the adventure, I can just watch the tape. Nick jumped first. Then the photographer climbed out under the wing and waited. Then I climbed out with my instructor and we all jumped together.

We reached a stable attitude quickly and the instructor released a small drogue chute, which slowed us to a terminal velocity of 120 mph. Still, my cheeks were flapping in the wind, so I involuntarily closed my mouth and held my breath. When I noticed the effect, I started breathing again through my nose. I was looking all over and enjoying the view. I was supposed to signal and say '5-5' to let the instructor know that I knew we had passed thru 5500 feet and I was ready to pull the rip cord at 4500 feet. The photographer was trying to signal the same thing, but I was either still suffering from lack of oxygen, or I was just caught up in the view. Next thing I knew, the instructor's hand came over my shoulder and pulled the ripcord.

The drop from 10,500 to 4500 feet took about 35 seconds. Seems like the rest of the drop was about another 5 minutes. During free-fall, I felt like a rock. After the chute opened, I felt like an eagle. The sun was about 10 degrees above the western horizon and the view was magnificent. It was very noisy before the chute opened and very quiet after. We glided down to the airfield and landed standing up.

At the time, this had been the most exhilarating experience I had ever had.