jump to bottom of page
In June of 1992, right before I moved to College Station to start grad school,
my roommate and I went skydiving at Spaceland USA near Houston.
Here's an account with the pictures to prove it.
Here I am hurling myself out of a plane at 13,000 feet. What led me to this interesting predicament? Well, I paid about $250 to take a 6-8 hour skydiving class one morning and then waited around for several more hours for the weather to permit jumping. It never did. So I went home, came back the next day, suited up again, waited around for a few more hours, and finally went up in a plane that afternoon.
By the way, the guy taking the picture has already crawled outside and is hanging onto little things on the side of the plane. He has both a camcorder and still camera mounted on his helmet.
On my left is the ``secondary jumpmaster'', whom you cannot see in this picture. On my right is the ``primary jumpmaster''. When I'm ready to go, I get an ``okay'' from both jumpmasters, then say, as we all rock back and forth, ``Out... in... out!'' On the last word, we all jump.
Here we are falling through the air. (Duh.) At this point I'm saying, ``Holy s---!'' Notice how much I look like someone who has just been pushed off a cliff.
Eventually I gain my composure and begin the ``GASP'' routine:
I forgot to look at something for my ``ground''. Here I'm checking my altimeter, which is strapped to my chest.
Here I'm getting an ``okay'' from my primary jumpmaster. Note the altimeter on my chest (right next to my left thumb).
I finally notice the camera guy and wave to him. By this time, I've done another GASP. After two GASP's, you have a moment of ``free time''.
My primary jumpmaster is signaling that I need to arch my back more.
I check my altimeter one last time.
At 5,500 feet I say, ``Five, five!'' while signaling this with my hands (opening and closing my fists twice in succession). This means I'm about to pull my ripcord. Free-fall has lasted about 35-40 seconds.
The camera guy backs off while my chute starts to open. By the way, there's a second parachute (activated by an emergency ripcord) just in case the first one doesn't open. The two chutes are packed by different people, who are both licensed (or whatever the proper term is) to do this job. The chutes have to be unpacked and repacked periodically if they aren't used.
There I go off into the wild blue yonder.
My chute still hasn't completely opened.
When it does, it's basically major wedgie time.
A view from under the canopy (the open parachute), provided by the camera guy. Notice his feet at the bottom of the picture. He's heading toward the landing area, which is the little brown dot in the field just beyond the last building (near the middle of the picture). Meanwhile, I am being ``talked down'' by a guy on the ground (a walkie-talkie type thing is also strapped on my chest).
Me landing. (The camera didn't have a zoom.) I landed about 100 feet from the target, which wasn't too bad considering that some people who jumped that weekend didn't even make it in same field. When I hit the (muddy) ground, I of course fell down on my butt.
Well, that's it. My skydiving experience. It's really unlike anything you can imagine, unless you've done it. I'd recommend it whole-heartedly, if you can afford it.
To find out more about skydiving in your area, see:
jump to top of page
Section: Donald Lancon Jr / Some neat things
HTML character codes
Previous: Yellowstone and Grand Teton pics