Lawson writes . . . sharing thoughts and memories

February 23, 2010


Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 5:00 am

In my late 50s, I declared there were a couple of things I wanted to do in life while there was time and ability.  One was to skydive.  Those free falls from such great height seemed to be an exhilarating experience.

Imagine jumping from a plane at about 12,000 feet and just free-falling for some distance before you open the chute.  The feeling, as well as the view, would have to be something that could only be described if you experienced it.  I could imagine myself falling toward the earth at 120  mph while doing a wing span, a flip, or just enjoying the freedom.  Then at the right moment, I would open the chute to slow me to a safe speed for landing.  With the chute open I could use the toggles at the end of the steering lines to maneuver myself to the landing site.  I truly rehearsed this many times in my mind.

Somewhere during these years of dreaming, one of my sons gave me a small, pocket manual.  I assumed it was for my adventurous spirit.  The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook, it was titled.  It gave you instructions on about every possible peril a person could face.  It gave directions on how to escape a bear, mountain lion, or alligator  attack.  It offered survival techniques when lost in the desert or mountains, among some other fifty or so situations.

But there it was on page 137, “How to Survive if Your Parachute Fails to Open.”  Boy, was I anxious to study this!  There was a question, however.  Was this a book for all the  possible things I could face, or was it for quieting my enthusiasm for skydiving?  Was this a family conspiracy?

Let me give you some of the instructions suggested, and note my mental responses to them:

1.  As soon as you realize that your chute is bad, signal to a jumping companion whose chute has not yet opened that you are having a malfunction.   Ok, but what if I don’t have a companion, or he doesn’t see me waving with panic, or his chute has already opened?

2.  When your companion gets to you, hook arms.  Again, this is assuming I had a companion, he saw me, and he came over to me.

3.  Once you are hooked together, the two of you will still be falling at terminal velocity, or about 130 miles per hour.  When your friend opens his chute, there will be no way either of you will be able to hold on to one another normally, because  the G-force will triple or quadruple your body weight.  To prepare for this problem, hook your arms into his chest strap, or through the two sides of the front of his harness, all the way up to your elbows, and grab hold of your own strap.  Alright, I get this part, so if I do hook up with a partner, there will be no problem with my holding on.  He will feel a vise-grip around him like he has never experienced!

4.  Open the companions chute.  The chute opening shock will be severe, probably enough to dislocate or break your arms.  Whoa, hold on!  Broken arms?  Well, I can still hold on, I’m scared enough and I want to survive!

5.  Steer the canopy. If the canopy is slow and big, you may hit the grass or dirt slowly enough to break only a leg, and your chances are high.  If his canopy is a fast one, however, your friend needs to steer in such a way to avoid hitting the ground too fast to avoid more injury.  It would be better to land in water and you will have a better chance of survival.  That is all very encouraging!  Two broken arms, legs broken, and who knows the impact on the body as we hit the ground!  And if there is water to land in, how do you swim with broken arms and legs?

You probably agree with me that these survival techniques are not very encouraging.  I believe these instructions dampened my enthusiasm for skydiving.  Sure, there are very few fatalities in this sport, but they do occur.  Why should I be a possible statistic?  Whatever the reason, whether from age, wisdom or other influences,  I decided that I didn’t need this experience in my life.  Besides, one day I will do just the reverse.  I will soar from this earth up through the heavens.  Is that the reverse of skydiving? (If you don’t understand that circumstance, ask me.)

I really have enjoyed this survival manual.  Yet, I own a manual that is much more complete, and I don’t have to face such perils to find use of  it daily.  I have the Bible.  Oh, what a manual for living life to the fullest and surviving everything I face, even death itself.  I hope you have such a manual and that you use it daily!

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.”  (Psalm 119:105)



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