Is it There? Square? Landable?

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The Beginning of the End of My Flourishing Career: Is it there? Square? Landable? 

Originally published in the August 2011 issue of Blue Skies Magazine. 

Remember that one time that skydiving changed my life, I started dating one of my instructors after I graduated, decided I wanted to move to Texas so I could get paid more and thus skydive more, declared my love for the state of Texas, then I decided I didn’t really love Texas all that much and at the ZHills New Years Boogie I decided to quit my job, start my own company and CSC was my first client and holy shit I’m running out of breath because this sentence is the longest sentence in the history of sentences? You don’t? Oh, well let me tell you all about THAT.

Where do I begin? Girl meets skydiving, skydiving changes girls life, girl meets instructor, girl starts dating instructor, girl wants to skydive all the time and chase the sunshine like all of her friends that skydive all the time.

I decided early that this whole “working-60-hours-a-week-and-getting-paid-peanuts” thing wasn’t for me. At least not working 60 hours doing PR in an environment that makes me dread getting out of bed in the morning. You can only write so many digital content calendars for that hot dog company that has a car shaped like a hot dog before you get tired of all the puns and late night crises when someone finds out that the processed meat isn’t all that tasty and blows up the Facebook page about it. See, people, getting paid to save the world one Facebook post or tweet at a time isn’t all fame, fortune and glamour.

So, right, working sucks. Isn’t that what we all discover after we discover how awesome skydiving is? I know I’m not the first Corporate America worker turned skydiving bum, but holy shit did my eyes open fast.

Fast forward to September, and we’re road tripping to SkyVenture Colorado for a tunnel camp. Five skydivers, packed in Robin, my Civic Hybrid, trucking it across the midwest to the majestic mountains in and around Denver, Colorado. Day one is full of hiking and non-tunnel activities, and we wrap up the day by me accidentally mentioning that I was hopefully interviewing for a job in Austin when we got back. See, the boy was scheduled to go to Spaceland in November and I had been talking to a certain agency in Austin since June and didn’t want him to think that I was looking to get a new job in Texas because he was going to be in Texas because I didn’t know if we were actually together let alone serious. So, I didn’t tell him about the interviews.

The morning of day two starts with the boy borderline screaming about his neck and how he needs to go to the hospital. Earlier in the season he had a whacker of an opening and had continued to jump on it all season long. Apparently 16 hours in a car and hiking led us to the tipping point, where the pain was so excruciating and he could barely walk. So I take him to a hospital in Parker, Colorado, and spend the rest of the trip there. He has surgery, all is well, we go home and I go to Austin for an interview. I get the job. I move to Austin at the end of October. Now the boy is out for six months to recover from the surgery so no jumping which sucks but is also awesome because he can come stay with me in Texas and then roam around Florida for a bit.

Between me moving to Austin around the end of October and season wrapping up at CSC, I don’t see the boy for almost a month. Which is like, a third of how long we’d been dating at that point. Surprisingly, it seems I’ve grown up a lot since the last time I dated someone and it all works out. I’m not a hot mess this time. Things are working out well, despite the fact that I’m not there with him or vice versa. He comes down around Thanksgiving, we tear it up in Austin for a month, and then we take Christmas-New Years off and galavant around Florida.

We had coordinated a Freefall University trip to Skydive City in Zephyrhills for the New Years boogie. Seven 2010 grads and two instructors, rippin’ it up in the sunshine. My parents were coming out to watch the skydiving action and experience a day at the DZ after New Years. I was so pumped for them to finally see what all the fuss was about. The boy and I are walking around the trailer park at Z-Hills and he said “so, what do you think about getting a trailer and coming down here in November?” and I stopped and smiled. I had never been more excited to live in a trailer in my entire life. The thought was exhilarating. I had discussed an opportunity with the DZO at CSC to join the team and do the marketing and events, but had turned it down because I had let other people convince me I wasn’t ready. That I couldn’t handle being THE marketing department, that I wouldn’t have anyone to teach me anything, and that I wouldn’t learn as much as I would if I stayed at my agency job in Austin.

My parents show up on the 2nd, and after a tour of the place, introductions to my friends, and seeing a couple loads land, my dad pulls me aside.

I will never forget the scene. We’re sitting on the long bench sandwiched between the swoop pond and the spectator deck. It’s a bit cloudy, so I grounded myself because clouds make me nervous, and he’s just taking it all in. He turns to me, with a little bit of a misty eye and says:

“I finally get it. For the past six months all you’ve been talking about is skydiving, skydiving, skydiving. I totally get it. And you’d be stupid to not pursue that opportunity at CSC.”

And so it was. My “someday” plan was to quit my job, start my own company and take clients and spread the love and education that I have for all things geeky and social media and marketing. My “someday” plan was to work at the DZ, jump my ass off, learn as much as possible, get my coach rating, and eventually become an AFF instructor.

My “someday” plan went into effect on January 2nd, 2011. I started making plans on when to quit my job and how much money I’d need to survive. I started posting my furniture on Craigslist, looking for someone to sublet my apartment, and started to check out what I needed to do to start my own company so I could live life the way I wanted to live it.

Super Yachts and Cutaways in Dubai

View of the swoop course

By Alastair Macartney, one of our heroes from Jump4Heros.

Otters and Porters and flying next the 1,300′ skyscrapers that adorn the beach and border the dropzone in Dubai. Today has been the official arrival day and the DZ was rocking with lots of competitors trying to get some final training in. The PD Factory Team are now here along with other top names like Wuzi Wagner, Red Robbie, Curt Batholomew, Nick Batsch, Marat Leiras, Martin ‘Danger Pants’ Reynolds and Erwin the Tank. The French are flying fast, some of the locals are looking pretty good and, of course, the Brits are enjoying the sunshine and scoring the gates.

The views remain awesome. This morning I flew over a super yacht with a helicopter on board as I was flying my base leg. The sun is shining but unfortunately we’re now on a weather hold due to the wind.

We spoke too soon yesterday. There’s been a broken leg after sliding out a decent run – very unlucky. There’s a few competitors nursing bumps and bruises as well. A big shout out to the DZ staff who retrieved my canopy and freebag from the sea super fast and the rigger for fixing my broken line over night.

Time for the beach…

Thanks Alastair for sharing your Dubai experiences with us – we hope you got yourself a tasty beverage to shake the nerves after that cutaway :)
And sorry for the sideways accuracy guy… I can’t seem to figure out how to get him to come straight down, and our webmaster is on vacation for a few more days!

Not your day to die, evidently

Morten Pedersen, a local DeLand videographer had a bit of a shitty day at work recently. Or a really good day, depending on how you look at it. After an uneventful tandem video, he deploys his Velocity 103 main and encounters a brake fire. The canopy spins up and Morten cuts away. The main canopy takes off with the SkyHook and as you can see in the video the freebag/reserve pilot chute are thrown around wildly. The red SkyHook lanyard breaks and once the reserve canopy is clear, Morten works hard to get an inflated reserve over his head.

Mission accomplished about 150 ft off the ground – aims for the nearest available clear area and flare…. In this case a little extra altitude at the top definitely saved the day and the big sigh at the end of the video says it all. Well done Morten – a good reminder to all of us to never stop fighting.

This incident has promoted some discussion about the use of a SkyHook with high performance main canopies such as the Velocity. Morten has shared his footage with the manufacturers and they will review it closely to see what can be learned from this incident. For a bit of background, Morten has been in the sport for more years than we care to count and has extensive experience behind him in almost every facet of jumping. He was jumping a SkyHook equipped Sun Path Javelin, a Velocity 103 and an Optimum 126.

We would love to hear your thoughts on the topic in the comments or on Facebook, especially if you are one of those high performance pilots.

Photo by Yell Saccani

Cutting Away

Yeah. She's badass. Watch out world.

World, meet our newest columnista – Sydney Owen.
We first tripped over Sydney through our trusty Google RSS feed reader – which job it is to suck up from the interwebs anything beginning with “skydive”. That led us to Sydney’s blog – Unfiltered.
At that point, Sydney was an eager beaver little skydiver, still pretty fresh from AFF and completely gaga for skydiving.
We liked her style, so we shot her an e-mail and said “hey, you should think about writing for us”. Sydney came back and said “yeah!”.

Then, like good little ADHD-riddled skydivers, we forgot all about it as the next shiny object caught our attention. Plus, Sydney was busy landing her dream job as a veritable social media hurricane, moving across the country and maintaining a long distance relationship. Column writing had to wait. But finally the stars aligned and Sydney sent in her first piece.

So, to quote a pretty lame movie, we present Sydney, smack middle in the act of “cutting away”. So grab your popcorn, have a seat and join us in watching Miss Corporate America goes Skybum. If you can’t do it yourself, what better than living vicariously through a hot, blond, young female…. yeah… you are welcome :)
Read the first column in the next issue of Blue Skies Magazine (#17 – Jan/Feb combo issue), mailing out next week.
And if you are not a subscriber… shame shame… but you can fix that here.