How Skydiving Changed My Life

How Skydiving Changed My Life - Rachel Ginsburg

by Rachel Ginsburg | B-43069 | San Diego, California

I woke up to the voice of my ground instructor repeatedly calling my name through the crackling radio at my ear, urgently yelling at me to untwist my lines. After a moment of disoriented confusion, I instinctively recalled what I had learned during my long day of static-line training. I checked altitude and kicked out three to four rotations of line twist. Once under a stable canopy, I realized I had absolutely no memory following the moment my hands slipped from the strut of the Cessna 182, a yellow smiley-face sticker taunting me from the underside of the wing I didn’t want to let go of. I had completely blacked out from fear. But within a minute, I was safe, the radio was quiet, and I took a moment to look around me. Seeing a patchwork quilt of farmland stretching for miles, vibrant under the clear blue sky I was briefly a part of, I felt the greatest sense of freedom in my life. I began laughing and kicking my legs like a kid on a swing as terror transformed into pure joy. more »

How Skydiving Changed My Life - Scott Jones

by Scott Jones | D-13317 | Winter Haven, Florida

Recently, I returned to skydiving after a 19-year hiatus. When I left the sport I was a 6-foot-tall, 185-pound young man and returned as a 6-foot-tall, 224-pound middle-aged man. Much of the change in my weight reflected a change in my body composition. I put on 20 pounds of lean mass; however, I also added 20 pounds of fat. These changes definitely affected my performance. Most men my age can relate to that few pounds they need to lose. After all, the average American is more than 23 pounds overweight. The problem was that my new body put me on the DZ as “that guy.” You know, the guy with the ballistic fall rate, the guy who always goes low, the guy who everyone groans about when they see him walking up for dive organization. I wasn’t prepared to be “that guy” when I returned to the sport, and it was emotionally challenging.  more »

How Skydiving Changed My Life - Sarah Crowley

by Sarah Crowley | A-67923 | Yosemite National Park, California

In October 2012, as my ground school date neared, I was filled with a level of fear I hadn’t known possible—a sort of hysteria—but implosive and oh so quiet. When the day (Halloween, appropriately) arrived, the fear didn't vanish, but it at least shriveled to something manageable. In retrospect, I suppose that pre-jump terror was not just a meditation on my mortality or the thought of breaking bones but a deep intuition that I just might change ... the horror of that. more »

How Skydiving Changed My Life - Steve Phelps

Steve Phelps | D-26782; AFF, tandem and IAD instructor; PRO rating | Bixby, Oklahoma

In September 1979, I had to make a very difficult decision, one that brought decades of regret. I was a U.S. Army Green Beret on Operational Detachment A Team 552, a green-light team that performed HALO jumps and SCUBA dives. I had completed Underwater Operations Training (SCUBA school) the previous year and was slotted to go to HALO school. I was ready to extend my time in the Special Forces to attend the school, but at the last minute my company commander told me that I must re-enlist; an extension was not enough. My wife had just had our first child, a girl, and I had plans for college, so I refused and left the service when my enlistment expired a few months later. more »

How Skydiving Changed My Life - Olga Wilhelmine Munding

by Olga Wilhelmine Munding | B-42017 | New Orleans, Louisiana

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” asked the captain of a 747 jumbo jet flying overseas. I was barely 6 years old, visiting the cockpit (they used to let kids do that), and the pilots were showing me what is was like to be up front. Grinning, I flashed my missing front baby teeth and said, “I want to be a pilot and an artist.” Hmmm ... yes, indeed. more »

How Skydiving Changed My Life - Tim Long

by Tim Long | D-5187 | Tucson, Arizona

I do not know how, but I always knew I would do a parachute jump. My favorite toy as a kid was a G.I. Joe with a parachute rig. In 1974, at age 22, I was in San Diego on a Coast Guard ship playing war games with the Navy. Mike Noto, a medic on the ship, found out that we could do a static-line jump at Otay for 40 bucks. I signed on. more »

How Skydiving Changed My Life - Mallory Wisong

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by Mallory Wisong  | A-72461 | Ossining, New York

Fear does not stop death; it stops life. Learning to skydive has taught me this lesson and helped shape the person I am today. I was never one of those people who had always wanted to skydive. No bucket list, dare or any amount of peer pressure was going to get me to jump out of a plane. In fact, I had never even considered skydiving until my husband made his first tandem. He was hooked immediately and got his license that same year. more »

How Skydiving Changed My Life - Paulo Marinho Gesta de Melo

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by Paulo Marinho Gesta de Melo | D-32697 | Ithaca, Manaus, Amazonas, Brazil

I was born with a heart condition. I’ve always known that I would have to get surgery to replace a heart valve, but the prognosis was that this would not be necessary until I was around 60 years old. So I’ve had a normal life. I’ve always been active, doing triathlons, cycling, working out, and in 2001, I started skydiving. In 2006, I decided to take skydiving seriously and traveled to boogies, camps and freefly and swoop championships. I became an AFF and BBF instructor (basic body flight, essentially the coach equivalent in Brazil’s student progression) and started traveling every month to train in the U.S. more »

How Skydiving Changed My Life - Lisa Ann Simpson

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by Lisa Ann Simpson | C-41459 | Ithaca, New York

When I started skydiving, it was the first thing I had actually done just for me. In 1997, I made one tandem for my 30th birthday. I fell in love with skydiving, but I was a single mother of two children and my most important goal was to raise them. Almost 15 years later, I told a girlfriend at work who was a skydiver that I had once made a tandem and would love to do another one. She told me that she had a friend who took students on tandems and gave me his contact information. On November 13, 2010, I drove to Skydive City Zephyrhills in Florida. I had no idea that my life was going to change forever. more »

How Skydiving Changed My Life - Chris Dawson

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by Chris Dawson | Ithaca, New York

What I have learned from skydiving is that everybody dies. OK, I didn’t learn this from skydiving. In fact, I am not really a skydiver. I have made two jumps in my life. One was a static-line jump and the other was a tandem. Both were terrifying. But my wife is a skydiver, and I have learned a lot from her involvement in the sport. more »