This is my busy time of year. In late August early September I average 50 to 7o jumps a week and fly the Grand Caravan whenever my pilot needs a break. Skydiving that much will keep a guy in shape but makes the evening soak in the hot tub more of a necessity than a luxury. Last Saturday was one of our busiest days of the summer and I was jumping non-stop when my manager asked my to come into the tandem training room for a minute. She pointed to a rather large young man sitting in the back row and told me that he wanted to make a tandem skydive. She said that he’d told her that he was quite a bit heavier than our normal 260 lb. weight limit, even more than the 289 lb. man I’d taken on a jump last month. One look at his hopeful face and I just couldn’t say no, a nasty habit of mine that will be the death of me yet. My manager suggested we put him on the scale before I make any promises. When he stood up I realized that this was indeed a BIG boy and the scale confirmed it. 309 lbs! Hmmm, 309 lbs, oh what the hell. “sure I’ll still take you”
Putting the harness on him wasn’t a simple feat but I made it fit and off we went. Getting to the door of the Caravan with a 309 lb passenger strapped to your chest and a 56 lb. tandem parachute on your back was a challenge but I somehow made it and flopped out for the 13,000 foot plunge. Boy oh boy was that freefall FAST! Normal freefall speed is about 125 mph. and we were doing at least 165 mph. My cameraman had his wings tucked in and was arching for all he was worth to stay with us but to his credit he managed somehow. When I pulled the ripcord the opening was, shall we say, brisk. My entire staff came out to watch the landing and I thankfully disappointed them by coming in fast but without the huge crash they were hoping for. It was gratifying to be able to make this young man’s day but I think next time I’ll put him on the scale before opening my big mouth.