Man, where did the time go? Looking at this photo takes me back to an incredible moment when I was in freefall. It was 1995, and I only had a few hundred jumps under my belt. The scorching heat made the day even more intense. I remember attending an evening skydivers party, where I had the pleasure of meeting someone who told me about the infamous Mr. Bill jump. The mere mention of it sparked a wave of excitement within me. It felt as if he was daring me to take on the challenge.
I approached the drop zone owner, who happened to be at the party, and asked if I could participate in the Mr. Bill jump the following day. His initial reaction was lighthearted, saying, "Sure, you can do it, but make sure you do it out over the forest. In case anything goes wrong, I wouldn't want to be responsible for cleaning up after you." In hindsight, that should have been a clear sign for me to reconsider. When someone with 10,000 skydives warns you about the dangers, it's wise to take their advice seriously. But in that moment, I felt invincible.
However, looking back, I now realize that skydiving is the last place one should ever feel invincible. The same applies to other extreme activities like base jumping, scuba diving, or even exploring the depths of the ocean in a submersible 4,000 meters below the surface. These activities demand respect, caution, and a deep understanding of the risks involved. It's crucial to prioritize safety and listen to the experienced individuals who offer guidance, even if it means letting go of our invincibility and embracing a more mindful approach.
That little speck falling away from the other little speck under his parachute was me! This photo was taken in 1995 over DeLand, Florida. By Joe Stanley, (RIP)
This is a silly stunt skydive where both people leave the airplane with their own parachute systems, however, I am holding on to the harness system of my partner while he is deploying his parachute, right as we leave the airplane.
I need to hold on during the opening forces. As everything goes quiet and we are now both flying around under his parachute.
After a few minutes, I grew tired of holding on so I let go and go back into freefall, wait a few seconds and then deploy my own parachute to land safely.
I made several of jumps like this with my friend Mike Maguire a.k.a., Maddog.