Let me say, finally, I see an interesting topic to discuss, oriented to "wannabe's" skydivers.
I have done all kinds of risk sports, including 10 jumps : 4 static lines and 6 accelerated freefalls. All these jumps were in the early 80's and mid 90's, both times trying to make a life-time sport. Unfortunately, during both times, I have shared my life with partners who
do not shared the same adrenaline high risk sports, mainly the most fascinated, skydiving.
The static jumps were performed on those round-WWII military chutes, yes the one who will change your mind after the first jump. One jump was done at 1,000 feet and the other ones at 2,500. neither one was fun, in fact they were the most scary adrenaline experience ever done in my life. You fall fast, no time for air-sightseing and you hit the ground so hard that if you do not perform a perfect "two-feet" leaning sideways fall, you find out the fastest way to break every bones. I definitely, do not reccommend this jumps to anyone, especially for first timers. Well, they were done in South America, in a place where they could not afford the fancy square chutes, at least back then.
Then, I had a second chance to get back on my jumps, this time I was introduced to the accelarated free fall crash course, that was fun and the best way to enjoy and learn precision skills. I felt secure, my confidence was re-gained once again and I was ready to continue on skydiving. This was done at drop zone Air Glades, Okeechobee Lake, Florida.
Unfortunately, my intentions to spend life time skydiving, wwas stopped by my partner, very typical: "...or I will leave you right now".
Now, I am single once again and this summer I have checked a drop-zone near my town. But, this time, I have two small children in my custody and some times, it does makes me think about jumping airplanes at 47.
Further more to say, I don't have any friends or even worst, a partner who would love to get involve in skydiving. I truly think, this would be a strong motivator to persue my list in high risk enjoyment.
What do you suggest?
Note from Accel;
Y'know buddy, I reckon you hit the nail right on the head for one of the biggest restrictions for anyone in any kind of adventure sport - partner resistance! and I mean this also from the perspective of girls AND boys.
For me, since I was 17 I've always structured my own life so that the girls in my life were skydivers. Of course the dropzone can be a 'strange' place for relationships and therefore it has its own strains, but thats another story (or two).
I know lots of guys (and girls) who have struggled with this partner resistance thing and it always seems to end up coming down to a choice (doesn't everything?). Maybe 'drop zone relationships' is a whole new thread - hmmmm...
It doesn't affect everyone, and I've seen some partners come along to be supportive and become part of the regular social scene. The key for successful relationships like those seems to be to 'get into the culture' and learn to enjoy the 'special' sense of humor and the way that every conversation comes back to skydiving.
On balance, from what I've seen, 'successful relationships' seem to have either skydiving couples, or else a non skydiving partner who does something within the skydiving community - there are lots of things to do. At the 'technical end' there is judging competitions (training is available and you don't need to be a skydiver), parachute packing and rigging. Manifesting is a critical role and its tough to do, managing reception and dealing with the public, working in the cafe or kit issue and helping refuel and push aircraft around. There are a few other things which partners can do but you get the picture. I will stress that skydivers see these aspects as very definitely "VALUE ADDING" (not meaning to shout here, just emphasis).
Heres an example - on every DZ, one saying is "don't p**s the manifester off" or you may not get too many jumps in. Consequently, the manifester usually gets bought lots of beers... (in addition to getting paid to do the job!). I remember one friend, Liz, telling me she was doing 20-30 main (parachute) pack jobs per day for $5 each (takes about 6 minutes each when you get practiced). She'd do this most weekends and for big competitions and 'boogies' which could be 5-7 days long. Do the maths - you can live on this (it certainly gets you fit!).
Looking to your own circumstances of being single with two kids. I know where you're at - mine are now 13 and 10 and I have them week-on, week-off (changeover thursdays). For a while (after the divorce) I dropped the corporate rat race and went back to teaching skydiving full time. Call it my 'post divorce rehabilitation' if you like. My boys lived with me in my trailer (not a big new one either) and we had great fun. They were DZ kids and effectively had lots of skydiving Uncles and Aunts at the drop zone. But then of course my ex was always on my next of kin forms, so if anything happened she would be called first to come get the kids (and she knew).
So you asked for suggestions, and what I would suggest is this; Talk to some drop zones and ask if they have work on the DZ. Discuss the situation with the DZ owner/operator. Tell them what you've told us here. You may well find that they are looking for someone like you to help in one or more areas, and if you wish become trained in each of them (by the DZ operator or one or more Instructors). In this way you become part of the community, your friends end up being there and the idea is that you enjoy life more. Its a tenous career track, but its fun and you may just find the lady of your dreams there (just make sure you don't give her FREE pack jobs ... after all, it may be your living :) ). This doesn't have to be your full time job, but many do get hooked and find a way to make it their whole way of life. I heard someone call it "escaping from the matrix".
Of course you will have to resist the temptation to go and skydive until you get the issue of your kids clear, but maybe when circumstances change, who knows? My kids used to lovewatching daddy land and they'd help me pack my parachute and the youngest one even liked helping me teach emergency drills (hmmm, I'm going off track here, but you get the picture :) ).
There are down sides to this lifestyle of course, and so I'll ask other skydivers to post here and add their thoughts, feelings and comments.
In summary Vino; I beleive that your aspirations are entirely possible, and I'd encourage you to figure it out. Let's stay in touch and maybe I can help.
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