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Reader question: Who is your safety role model?

Written by Lara

Safety Day is coming up so this month we want to know: Who is your personal safety role model? Whose safety consciousness and behavior do you most want to emulate?

This is that guy or gal who just exemplifies safe jumping – either in skydiving, BASE jumping, paragliding or whatever – probably without being too much of a douche about it (and you know who that guy/gal is, too!). There’s a saying, “There are bold skydivers and there are old skydivers, but there are no old, bold skydivers.” You know this dude will be an on old jumper, if they’re not already.

Select responses will be printed in the March issue, i63, of Blue Skies Mag; responses may be edited for grammar, clarity and/or space. Sign your comment with the exact name you would like printed with your answer. You can also email responses to me at lara@blueskiesmag.com.

4 Comments

  • Scotty Milne. He runs Active Skydiving and is very particular about safety, picking up the same US skydiver twice in a week for not having his chest strap done up correctly in the aircraft. This scenario was made worse when the guy first off didn’t believe him, then failed to even say thank you when Scotty was proved correct. Perhaps it’s a British thing, but I would have said thank you to the man who’d saved my life twice in a week and bought him a beer at the very least!!

  • I’m not sure I have current role models so much as a few sayings in my head that were put there years ago by safety-conscious jumpers, two of which in particular stand out.

    #1, which I’m sad to say I can’t attribute, was said by a gentleman who ran a canopy safety seminar back in ’98 or ’99 at the Ranch in NY. He said that when one is under canopy, the overriding thought should be “Where is the idiot who is trying to kill me?” Even more than “have your head on a swivel,” this sentence brings home the point that you can be killed not just by your own errors but by those of others.

    #2 was given to me by Peter Kramer during my first-jump course in reference to dealing with malfunctions: “You have all the time you need, but no time to waste.” I have remembered this phrase in CF situations, while ice climbing, and even have shared it with my own students in my classroom when they are taking tests.

    In terms of modeling, one thing for which I am grateful is that my teammates on Clean Air, who have historically had many more jumps than I (sometimes by a factor of ten!), have always been fully supportive of safety decisions I’ve made for myself given my lower experience. I have scratched from loads that they’ve gone ahead and jumped on, and not only have _never_ gotten sh*t about it (which is of note on a team that will good-naturedly rag on each other for just about _anything!_), but have even been told that I made a good call.

  • I’m my own safety role model when it comes to skydiving. I always do gear check before each jump and practice emergency procedures. I pull at 4000 ft or higher, so I’ll have more time to respond to malfunctions. I’m always aware of altitude, always look around me when tracking and before I pull to avoid collisions. Of course I also look around me while under canopy, because there are a lot of idiots flying at the same time. Might sound boring I know, but I want to land safely and be able to do another jump as soon as possible… and you know that it’s more boring to end up in a hospital or in the graveyard!
    But the most important thing is that I keep my rigger happy. I give him chocolates and beer every once in a while so I can make sure he’ll pack my reserve perfectly, if you piss your rigger off, you’ll never know what happens when you have to use your reserve ;) Wanna risk that? No.
    These simple steps probably saved my life when I had high speed malfunction last year, and yes, the reserve worked and I gave my rigger a big hug and a bottle of his choice.
    You have probably all heard of these advice before, but I’ve noticed that the most experienced skydivers are more likely to ignore these advice, and they are also the ones that are most likely to die in a skydiving accident.
    Just remember that YOU are responsible for your own safety and you are never too experienced to follow these simple steps for a safer fun in the sky :)

  • To me there are two role models when it comes to safety:
    1) Jokke Sommer for stepping out of jumps when he just does not feel safe
    2) Simon Wandeler for the same as Jokke, but even more for doing hundreds of jumps from planes before trying stuff in BASE scenarios. Furthermore not putting anything to social media but just enjoying our sport with no need to produce himself.

    Those two are by far the hardest things i have come across in skydiving. We all want to jump and be respected by others. Taking a step back from this is the a personal decision and most people misjudge themselves and safety for the sake of “that one jump”.

What do you think?