Today marked the last skydive of 2009…
It didn’t seem so sad at the time, but 2009 has been a unique year in my skydiving career, so upon reflection, it was somewhat disconcerting to realize that I won’t be exiting any more aircaft in this calendar year.
However, there certainly could be worse days…
Today I finally got Jay Stokes, President of the USPA, into the sky and a wingsuit. Jay had been wanting to fly a wingsuit for a while, not only to experience the wingsuit for the first time; he also wanted to better understand the process of flying a wingsuit, given a proposal placed before the USPA Board of Directors related to creating a Wingsuit Instructor’s Rating. (submit your comments if you agree with creating a Wingsuit Instructor’s Rating). I’d initially trained Jay in wingsuiting back in June. Poor weather conditions and then a bad skydiving accident (on my part) prevented him from getting up.
One thing that is impressive about this president of the USPA; Not only is he an exceptionally active skydiver, but he also keeps trying new experiences such as BASE jumping and now wingsuiting. Why this is impressive is that many members of the United States Parachute Association are not current skydivers. Some of them haven’t jumped in many years.
We spent about 30 minutes doing some recurrency training. Although Jay was my AFF Instructor and I’d “taught” him before, this was a “for-real” exercise and it’s somewhat intimidating to be teaching someone with the history, knowledge, and experience that my student has. We went up in Skydive Elsinore’s Blue Otter. Donny was behind the yoke, so we were able to get a nice 90 degree turn towards the Ortega mountains, and Jay exited like an old pro.
Our second exit, we went a little farther out for some distance. Watching the sun over the ocean was spectacular. As we docked, I realized again how much I love teaching, sharing my love of the sky with others. I can’t imagine not teaching, whether it’s sharing my avocation of music, video production, or skydiving.
As we came over Grand Avenue on the west side of Elsinore, Jay gave a grin and we slid toward each other for his first dock. While he may only have a couple wingsuit jumps, his 15,000 skydives are pretty evident in this jump because he flew as solid as a rock.
Landing on the grass after a 97 second flight, we both had huge grins and exchanged a high five with a heart-felt gratitude for the opportunity to fly together.
I should probably explain here that Jay was a few feet behind me when I broke my pelvis, and it meant a lot to me to be able to share the sky with Jay again after my accident.
What a perfect way to end the jumping year. Many thanks to everyone at Skydive Elsinore for the great beginning to a winter season….