Suffice it to say that with no jumping on New Years Day other than the golf course jump (that ended up giving Skittles a tib/fib fracture) and the skydive ultimately ending the life of Dan Kulpa, the past two days have not found themselves worthy of a single character on my screen…
Yesterday was a dark day. We lost a comrade in nylon, a young skydiver named Dan Kulpa. Dan was a very happy kid, enthusiastic as hell about skydiving. I didn’t know him well at all, and had only chatted for brief periods in the day he was on the Sebastian dropzone. There isn’t much to say here; the lessons have all been learned, the cause somewhat evident to me from a personal perspective (Justin Shorb and I were asked to examine certain aspects of the incident scene) and a tragedy has occurred. Dan died after being separated from his parachute, following deployment. In my opinion, Dan made a mistake that ultimately cost him his life.
After the incident scene was released by the coroner’s office, Skydive Sebastian was cleared to re-open operations. Three loads went up. I was on the last load with Doug M. We did a long flight to clear our heads of the tragedy, and to renew our commitment to flight. It was a hard skydive, flying into the sun and then towards the ocean. Neither of us had much to say following the skydive.
The day began as a fairly somber one; no wingsuits were manifesting, and the entire DZ just seemed “quiet.”. I went as a solo wingsuit on one of the first loads of the day, not only to clear my head again, but also to show that wingsuits are still on the Sebastian dropzone. Following that load, interest in wingsuits seemed to pick up.
I spent the day organizing wingsuits, reviewing safety procedures with Justin Shorb, and a coupla first flight courses. Andreea, Mikhal, and myself went up for a relative wingsuit work skydive. What fun! Mikhal was flying a smaller than usual suit (his was packed away for the drive home) and so he struggled to keep up. Andreea and I turned seven points on our own.
Next up was my wingsuit jump with Doc. Wow….he rocked it. One of my favorite students ever!
Here is a picture of Ed/Doc…
Doc went out of the aircraft completely pumped and ready to fly. With a tad of instability out the door, he quickly recovered and flew straight. His practice touches were beautiful, losing very little altitude. Turning towards the ocean, he did his second practice touch, and then turned nicely towards the dropzone. His landing was picture-perfect, and his yells of joy could be heard from a couple hundred feet away. Everyone in the landing area turned to see who/why was as elated as Doc was. His Perma-grin® made it clear we had a new wingsuiter on the DZ. He was promptly measured for his own suit following the first flight course.
Andreea, Mark, and Mikhal went out for a relative work skydive. Doug M stung the tail of the multi-point formation after a flat-spun exit.
During the day, it was hard to not make a little fun of Skittles, who had experienced a tib-fib on the previous day. Skittles was on for a clean approach, albeit downwind, when a golf cart decided to drive. He wanted to avoid the golf cart and held in full brakes a little too long. The resulting surge brought him to the ground with a little too much angle and a little too little speed…Poor kid. Not only did he break his leg, he also missed out on a weak dinner with rubber chicken. But…he was in great spirits.
Tomorrow is my last day here at Sebastian for a while; I wish I could stay. The vibe is wonderful, the speed of loading aircraft has dramatically improved, and the wingsuit jumps with the ocean view are terrific and memorable. If I don’t check in tomorrow, it’s because I didn’t get up in the air due to finishing out packing of camera gear and other business.
A heart-felt “thank you” to Amanda, Julie, Uwe, Range, Harry, Pete, and the rest of the Sebastian staff. Dave and Rook are outstanding pilots, and the views….well….you just GOTTA experience Sebastian to understand what I’m talking about. It looks, smells, and feels terrific from 13.5K.
Thanks for reading my blog during this event, thank you so very much for the private messages and emails, comments, and phone calls…they’ve kept me writing late into many nights to share some of my moments at Skydive Sebastian.
Until the next event…May blue skies and puffies fill your tomorrow….