What makes a person jump from a perfectly good airplane? If you skydive you know the answer. The question is of course, an attempt at humor on the part of a person who would never likely understand your reasons to skydive. I am not sure I ever fully understood my desire to skydive except that it was an opportunity to experience flight in its purest form. The fact that the human body in free fall has the glide ratio of a wing clipped chicken means nothing. Relative to other bodies falling we were in those very early days of the late 60’s and early 70’s in my case, able to fly over and hook up with each other. Not a lot was known about technique and some free fall “relative work “was more work than it needed to be. Closing speeds, relative to each other could exceed 90 mph and God help you if you hit another falling body at that speed differential. It seldom happened but collisions did occur and people were hurt and killed, but not often.
I can still remember most of the people I skydived with about 35 years ago and a couple of years back I returned briefly to the place I first learned to Skydive.
Tom was there and recognized me which took me by surprise until I remembered that I had sent him some stories and photos of my recent activities in my career as a helicopter pilot. Tom McCarthy is as close to a legend in the skydiving business as anybody is allowed to get in any sport in Canada. Canadians are funny about sport icons. I have lived in the U.S.A.just long enough to find it funny that people are not recognized for their accomplishments in Canada to the same extent they are in the United States.
I saw Norm that day as well. We all really liked Norm. He was the pilot we looked up to and he acknowledged the fact I had become a pilot as well, but then added that he was surprised I had become a helicopter pilot and had always thought I was a wimp.
I laughed at Norm’s comment but it hit me as hard as it would have back when I was 17.
You never know how you touch people’s lives and I am sure I have made more than my share of thoughtless insensitive comments as well.
I was looking at some old skydiving photos the other day there was one of a bunch of us at the drop zone after a jump of some distinction? There were about a dozen of us in the photo and a younger Norm was standing there as well.
That’s when it hit me. Four of us in the photo had gone on to be helicopter pilots. I don’t ever remember any of us ever talking about wanting to be pilots of any description let alone fly helicopters. Not bad for four wimps, huh Norm?