And now, an excellent story from TK Hayes, President and Manager of Skydive City in Zephyrhills, Florida, via Karl Meyer of Performance Designs. Thanks to you both!
Pookie (a.k.a. James Morning) did his 6th AFF jump here at Skydive City this past weekend, despite his being paralyzed form the waist down.
Pookie started skydiving with his first tandem jump in 1996 here in Z-Hills. We had developed some cool straps for paraplegic tandems an needed a guinea pig to try them out on. It really changed his life and he committed himself to skydiving again and eventually solo skydiving.
He came back in 2007 and started doing more tandems, completing some 30 tandems total. His canopy control was excellent after all that training and while we wanted to get him into AFF of some sort, we did not have the gear to do it.
We finally put together a rig with several modifications to bind his legs up and out of the way for the freefall and canopy ride – kind of a styletuck.
He now has done 6 AFF-style skydives with a Navigator 260 main canopy(he weighs 140lbs) mostly 1-on-1 jumps with TK Hayes as the primary jumpmaster.
While the freefall ain’t perfect, it ain’t all that bad. His canopy control and landings have been flawless so far, he simply tips in all tucked up and lays over on the ground. The Navigator sets him dow nicely each time and provides great drive as well, even with the light wing-loading.
Will Pookie ever skydive alone? Perhaps not, but perhaps someday. We have some ideas to try a sit-suit, perhaps a different way to hold his legs, there is a lot of experimenting to happen yet. For now, we are all having a great time just doing hang-on skydives and letting him do his thing.