On June 1, 2008 close to sunset I boarded a small 182 Cessna airplane leaving the ground...and ever since have never quite returned.
My story of how I found a passion, an extreme sport, and community of similar like minded trouble makers is as follows. Keep in mind that I am certainly biased and no, skydiving is not for everyone.
When people ask me how I got into skydiving I tell them the amusing story of me looking for a job.
It was the spring of 2008. I was a single, up to no good thrill seeker looking for something interesting to do on the weekends. I already had a nice boring desk job during the week and didn't feel like flipping burgers or delivering pizza just to make a little pocket money and jumpstart my lame social life.
That's when I came across an ad on Kijiji. It read:
Weekend parachute packers needed.
No experience needed. Will train.
Contact [MotherGoose aka Bartimus Maximus]."
I replied to the ad immediately!!!
I thought what a cool way to get into skydiving. Not only would I learn about the most important thing about the sport...THE GEAR...but I also would be doing something so different and interesting from all the other part-time jobs out there.
I HAD TO GET THE JOB!!!
And then I received a heartbreaking reply.
date: Fri, Apr 18, 2008 at 8:09 AM
subject: RE: Reply to your "Parachute Packer" Ad on KijijiHi Paul, I have just added 5 new people to the team. They are currently going through the training.At this moment, I have filled up my requirements but I never know how the packers will turn out untilthe training is complete. I will keep you in mind, you are next on my list should someone not work out.Thanks for your reply. Please feel free to come by the dropzone on any weekend to see the operationand observe the packing team.Bart
Although never one for giving up, I was so determine to work at a real dropzone I "dropped by" the "dropzone" and met Bart in person.
I honestly think he was not really impressed with my buzz cut hair, my "Monkey Boy" jersey shirt, and mediocre non-skydiver personality.
Again I thought my brief affair with skydiving world was dashed and shattered.
I later learned that it was only because of Bart's incredible wife, Alissa, had "a good feeling" I was a hard worker and suggested to Bart to give me a shot.
To make a long story short all the new candidates he trained flaked out except me!
That's because packing parachutes is hard work!!!!!!!!!!
Also sometimes very stressful; takes someone that has OCD quality control; in good physical condition; use to manual labor; and basically it takes a certain person to just grind through the sweat, tears, and occasional finger blood to save other peoples' LIVES!
What was the pay off?
I slowly packed enough parachutes to do the First Jump Course. Can you believe my first jump was on a parachute I packed myself???!!!!
Then I packed to earn more jumps and worked my way through the student progression.
I become a certified Solo skydiver, and then earned my A and B Certificate of Proficiency.
Soon I became a certified FAA Parachute Rigger.
Then a Coach 1 and Jump Master (static lines).
My current passion is dispatching students from the plane and see them literally become different people after they land. They walk prouder, they talk louder, they're buzzing for days and see everything in life with more adventure.
Now a Skydive School Instructor I teach newbies in the classroom for the very same First Jump Course I did.
One day I'll be good enough to jump with a screaming and kicking person attached to the front of me as a Tandem Instructor.
Perhaps become a bad ass and enter skydiving competitions with others around the world.
In the mean time I'm always fun jumping with friends and literally playing in the sky and seeing the little world beneath me. When the sun sets many of us will gather around the bonfire and laugh about shenanigans and swap skydiving stories we've heard from other dropzones.
Once you become a skydiver you become part of a wacky family of misfits all living life to the fullest.
You literally can travel the world and as long as there's a dropzone nearby you'll always have a home away from home.
I have a whole new set of friends and a hobby and passion in my life that all began with me finding an ad on Kijiji and working my ass off on the ground, so I could reach the sky (cheesy but true).
I recently proposed to the love of my life, Kristen. Whom I meet while packing parachutes.
Again, I am very biased and always tell people they should jump out of a perfectly good airplane...however...
“Life is either a daring adventure
or nothing at all.”
― Helen Keller