Sunday, June 6, 2010

Cloudplay Saturday

Photo by Tyson, 5 June 10 (click to enlarge)
On Saturday, Smart Guy and I made three jumps each at Snohomish Skydiving Center, and I was hoping to make three more today, but we woke up to rain and just the complete opposite day from what we had yesterday. I made a post on my other blog about our conversation on the way home. Some of the comments on that post made me think about why we still jump at our ages, and how long can we keep going.

Lucy asked me what would stop me from skydiving, and who is the oldest skydiver in the world. I found lots of information I didn't know about the oldest active jumper, who was George Salyer. He took up the sport at the age of 88. I found this interesting article about his death at the age of 101 (in 2002):
The owner of 17 planes during his lifetime, he took up skydiving at the age of 88. He became a skydiving enthusiast, observing each subsequent birthday by jumping from altitudes of about 12,000 feet. In 1992, when he was 91, he became the oldest male tandem skydiver in the world. In 1995, Salyer, then 94, and a 71-year-old son, a 40-year-old grandson and a 15-year-old great-grandson set a record for a multigenerational jump.
There are no actual age limits for skydiving. I am a member of Skydivers Over Sixty and look forward to joining Jumpers Over Seventy in a few years. There is a group for Jumpers Over Eighty. The link under the jumper in red takes you to information about those groups. Anyone who has ever made any kind of parachute jump and is over the age of sixty (or seventy or eighty) qualifies you to join.

Why would I stop? Well, I stopped teaching skydiving after 12 years of instructing because I didn't want to take that kind of risk any more. I waited until I turned 65, and I figured if I was old enough to retire from a desk job, it might behoove me to start skydiving for fun again. When we moved here in 2008, I let all my ratings expire and now only jump for fun.

The first thing that keeps anybody safe is currency. Here in Washington state, you don't stay current during the winter months unless you travel to other places. I have also stopped doing that, because my instructing would pay for my trips to Arizona or Florida, but now I am living on my retirement income. It's just as well: I'm finding so many other things to do with my time and energy, and skydiving is quite demanding of both.

So every spring I need to get over the "Spring Hump" and get back in the air. It's easy to see why someone might not quite get around to it, and your gear needs to be inspected and in date. There's also the aspect of becoming more frail as you get older, and there's no getting around the fact that older people have a tendency to break easier. I'll stop skydiving, but right now I don't have to. Just thinking about never making another skydive makes me sad.

In 1975, Smart Guy wrote an article for the skydiving magazine Parachutist, called "Patterns in the Sky," and he coined the word "airgasm" to describe how skydiving feels. I love the way the word captures the experience!


  1. I wish I had the guts to try it - I would probably love it as much as you do - but, alas, too fearful of heights to give it a go. You always make it sound so inviting. I think it's amazing that you both enjoy it so much together.

  2. Oh gosh, my son and I are so into weather, and stars, well, everything in the sky period. But flying around in it, with out a plane attached EEK! I get weak-kneed just thinking about it, you have far more courage than I could ever dream of. Keep up the exhilerating fun. I'll be wathing for you guys in our telescopes....!

  3. DJ the whole family is very adventurous we would try anything for fun and thrill, but for me I think I am not ready for skydiving, I don't know with the other members of the family. But I think skydiving is one of the coolest adventure so far that I know and doing it would make me feel so proud of myself. Skydiving and other sports activities has no age limit, as long as you're determined and brave enough to do it, no one and nothing can stop you.


  4. so happy that you love what you do and are still so enthusiastic about it!

  5. I'm glad to see a picture of the two of you. I think that's the first picture I've seen of Smart Guy.

    Isn't it interesting how so many things in life have their own language, law, medicine, academics, and skydiving. It's interesting how lost we are hearing conversations in those languages if they're not a part of our vocabularies.

    Interesting post. I'm sorry you didn't get to jump today. The weather here has been gosh awful all day. I've seldom seen it rain as hard as it has today.

  6. Both my sons and daughter-in-laws have done this, but the daughter-in-laws both say they would never do it again. They are braver than I; I wouldn't even do it once! And you are a whole other species, I swear! lol

  7. It is wonderful that you have something that you enjoy so much. I love to fly, in a plane, but I don't think I'm ready to step out into the sky just yet.

  8. Like I said on your other post: keep it up as long as you can! ;o)

    I wish I could do it as well... at least try it once (someday), but it looks like a very expensive hobby and I've already got one of those! (scuba diving... not very expensive but just enough so that I can't do it as often as I'd like)

    And I loooove the caption in that photo about the wrinkles! :p

  9. I've heard "No guts, no glory" and I have neither. It's great that you can continue a hobby you love. I know myself enough to know I won't be trying it--no courage. BTW I love your photo of the big hands holding the tiny feet.

  10. My mom did, once, fly in an airplane. She said she wouldn't fly for most of her life and wanted to keep her feet on the ground. But I paid for a plane ticket for her to come home and visit and then we drove to Florida. It was a trip she said she would never forget. Since she kept her money either pinned to the inside of her bra or put a wad in her sock, my youngest daughter, who rode with us, recalls that she hated it when mom pulled off her sock to get some money because he feet didn't smell good. LOL

    I am not a brave person and the 101st airborne taught me how important a chute is. So more power to you. LOL

  11. Your enthusiasm for your beloved sport comes through loud and clear in this post. Wonderful photo of the two of you. You have lived such an interesting life. I think most of your readers are in awe of your adventures and your strength. You have survived painful times, sad times too. You are still young and have so many adventures ahead of you. I look forward to hearing about them all.

  12. You are simply amazing!!! I'm in TOTAL is something I've always wanted to try...but while my mother was alive, I didn't out of respect for her fears...when my son is grown, I may give it a whirl...glad to know you can take it up later in life...that gives me both hope and inspiration! You and "Smart Guy," by the way, make a really handsome couple!! Love, Janine XO

  13. What happens if you need to go the bathroom in mid-air? Knowing me, I'd shit in my pants!

  14. Skydiving is not something I have ever had any interest in, but I do love reading about your adventures.

  15. I'll be happy to live vicariously through your skydiving...I'm a chicken ****! I'd never make it out the door. Loved the wonderful photo of you and the smart guy. Geronimo!!

  16. It's interesting to know that you taught skydiving for 12 years, DJan!
    The "airgasm" must keep you young!


  17. simply must be a new word..I love it! It is wonderful that you both enjoy the airgasm together!!
    If you enjoy something..why not! We are not getting any younger:)

  18. I love that picture of ya'll! That's the first picture I've seen of the two of you (excluding ones of you skydiving). What a lovely couple:)

    I don't blame you for letting your license lapse-you have plenty on your plate without it. The story about George Salyer is so happy. May we all find such enthusiasm for life!

  19. One of these days, I'm going to post about riding a motorcycle and yes, we are experiencing the difficulties of riding as we age. Where we once wouldn't think twice about heading out for four hundred miles in a day, we now have to gauge the distance and if we do four in one day, the next sure better be shorter!
    As you and smart guy are aware; how many muscles does it take to hold your helmet straight against the wind?
    When you've a physical joy in your life, it is sad that we're likely going to live longer than we can 'do' what makes us most happy.

    Old age sucks... huh?

  20. That's a very nice picture of the both of you D-Jan. An interesting article about your sky diving too. Amazing how anyone over 80 would still be able to do it.
    Blessings, Star


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