|Trouble starts with Sue's playful sketch.|
Sue captured the scene in a few playful strokes.
"Doesn't that look fun?" someone asked.
"We should do that," Sherryl suggested helpfully.
Three hours later, my wife jumped from the open door of a Cessna Caravan at 12,000 feet, strapped to some guy named Kevin, an "independent contractor" and adrenalin junkie responsible to make sure she lived to pay $150.
"I was hoping for Pegleg," Sue said, "but he jumped with someone else."
Click for jump-video on YouTube.
The skydiving firm was remarkably fair-minded. They didn't collect the fee till afterwards, I learned to my pleasant surprise.
But that was the only slack they cut the customers. The company stressed repeatedly and emphatically how dangerous skydiving is, and how uninsured they are. In fact Sue had to watch a video to this effect.
If anything should go wrong, including death, the jumper would not be entitled to damages, according to seven legal agreements Sue signed before going aloft. Neither would the jumper's estate, to my dismay.
|Sue bails out with new friend, Kevin. Click to enlarge.|
They were sensibly grounded at the airstrip, squinting at dots in the sky and cheering Sue on, vicariously.
Let me hasten to add, I wasn't there.
I was safely decompressing on Whidbey Island with the rest of our party from the previous week's stay on the big island of Hawaii. The trio of women were taking a bonus week at Cathy's condo in Honolulu, on Oahu.
And even though it all happened on impulse, it didn't happen fast. It took hours to prepare, sign the forms, watch the ominous videos, get briefed, strapped in and loaded up.
Sue and her friends already were starving in the first place when they foolishly stopped for information. One thing led to another.
"We're just on our way to lunch," Sue told the woman behind the desk.
|Taco Girl is feeling cocky, harnessed up. Sketch by Cathy Hess. Click to enlarge.|
Sue ignored the advice and wolfed down two fish tacos from the food cart nearby. "They were bad."
Sue said she changed clothes several times before going up. While Sue worked on her wardrobe, Sherryl kept a savvy eye on the people packing the parachutes. "I was just watching for worn harnesses and such," Sherryl assured.
Finally, Sherryl, you landlubber! A pang of well-deserved guilt?
"First I thought I was going to be cold," Sue said. "Then I was too hot. I think it was nerves and hot flashes. I borrowed a shirt from Cathy, then took it off. I finally went back to the sleeveless shirt I was wearing in the first place."
Skydiving seems to be a young person's sport. "I think I was the only person over 30 on the plane," Sue said. Editor's note: Well over.
Free-falling from 12,000 feet in a thin shirt at about 120 miles per hour, wouldn't Sue be freezing?
"I don't know," she said. "I don't remember. I was in shock."
"And was there swearing?"
"No, but I think there was peeing."
|Sue's sketch of the north shore beach where the idea was born.|
More about the dizziness later. Multiple cameras recorded panoramic views of the island's rotating shoreline and surf as seen from much too high.
A personal photographer accompanied each customer. Sue's photographer was a woman named Butters, after the South Park character. In fact as I watched the video, it appeared several helmet-cams with fish-eye lenses were recording Sue's adventure from every possible angle.
|Alive but changed. Photo by Sherryl Goldfinger.|
Sue landed on her feet, then sank to the earth as her jump-partner asked, "So was that fun? Would you do that again?"
On the video I couldn't make out Sue's answer, so I inquired.
"Ask me later," she told him. "Right now I'm a little woozy."