Four hours into the flight, it seems appropriate to begin the blog for the week; I’m on my way to the Australian Parachute Federation conference being held in Brisbane, Australia. Two rows ahead of me, a wailing child compels me to put in my headphones and listen to music. I’m considering what I’ll say to the members of the APF, speaking on subjects related to wingsuit skydiving and digital media on the dropzone. These are similar presentations as seen at the PIA conference in Reno, Nevada last February, but I want to change it up to reflect events occurring in the past few months, and coming in the next.
I’m listening to Kings of Leon singing “Revelry” and about halfway through my personal reverie, my seatmate asks me “Is that a parachute in the overhead?” Of course, I’m more interested in writing and considering my Powerpoint presentations, but what the heck?… Aren’t we all ambassadors for the sport?
I begin to tell him about skydiving, and even pull out some video from my iPod to share. Between Scotty Burn’s videos and a few of my own, there is quite a collection of nylon fun… He’s astounded to see wingsuiting from the viewpoint of a skydiver, vs seeing the standard terrain flight so famous on Youtube. He was enamored with some of the video from the 71-Way World Record held in Elsinore, and wanted to know more.
Turns out, he’s from Brisbane and thinks he wants to try this craziness so many of us enjoy, even take for granted at times.
He seems to enjoy the stories of my first skydives in Australia, about the time I went to Picton and jumped in winds far too high for me to manage, but heck…what’s a 210 canopy for if it isn’t for jumping in high winds? I actually did make it onto the DZ, but only just.
Then there was the time at Nagambie when I didn’t know the area and was the first stick out. The pilot lighted up the green signal so out my daughter and I went….I did at least make sure I could see the DZ before we left the plane. Dumb move. I had around 150 jumps, she had less than 50. I gave her a pull signal around 8k, and she made it to the DZ. I landed off, managing to kiss a powerline as I descended into a farmer’s field. Fortunately, the farmers in the area were familiar and only too happy to give a wayward skydiver a lift back to the DZ. The pilot apologized for the bad GPS spot. Truth be known, I didn’t know if it was his fault, my fault, or a combination. The DZM offered up a pair of jump tickets by way of apology. I’ll bet *that* doesn’t happen often.
Hopefully my seatmate wasn’t scared too badly by these stories of personal stupidity…and if he was…he hid it well. We both laughed as I described the look on the face of the driver of the car I landed in front of.
A thousand jumps later, here I am winging my way back to Oz to do it all over again.
So, I hand him a card, tell him about the DZ I’m planning on visiting Sunday before the conference begins, and offer to help hook him up. We’ll see…tomorrow is another day.
Cookie (Jason Cooke from Cookie Composites has graciously offered to retrieve me from the airport with my bags and gear; what a guy. My flight arrives at 5:00 a.m. and I’ll tell you what….*my* body clock only recognizes one 5:00 in the day, and it isn’t the “a.m.” one. Anyway, I’m looking forward to seeing his always-smiling face. One can only hope he’s got a cup of coffee waiting my sure-to-be jet-lagged body. With luck, the weather will allow us to get into the air. We’ll see.
Kings of Leon”I Want You” is calling me….stay tuned for the next installment of this next adventure….