Reprinted from the August 2009 issue of Blue Skies Mag
Don’t Forget the “Mo Rule”
by Mike Gruwell
The range of naked skydiving experience is far and wide. For some, their only skydive ever was naked courtesy of a tandem jump sans clothes, perhaps with Fast Eddie of Huntsville, Ala. Fast Eddie Grantland has taken 111 naked tandem passengers since 1991. Number 111 was two weeks ago.
For some, it’s just something to do to change it up a bit. Warren Cleary of Atlanta makes one naked jump a year on his birthday and has done so for the past four years. Says Cleary, “Me and my buddy’s birthday are one day apart and one year we just said, ‘Lets go jump naked.’” He’s been doing it once a year ever since. Yet for others, it’s a regular occurrence. Jeff Dawson of Wisconsin has made 2,436 jumps to date, of which 325 were naked. He has made at least one naked jump in the past 95 consecutive months. Jeff says he is the world record holder for naked jumps.
But whether it’s your first jump, or you are working to get a world record in naked jumps, there are a few things to consider when it comes to rigging and the gear-up. “I own what I believe to be the only rig that was specifically designed for naked skydiving,” Dawson says. “When Mr. Booth and Company made my Vector 3, I had them add an ROL pocket on each leg strap. One is for my cell phone…the other is for my shorts which I put on after the naked jump.”
Safety rules don’t go the way of your clothes when it comes to naked jumps. Wearing shoes, goggles and a helmet is encouraged. Grantland insists that his naked skydiving students wear tennis shoes to reduce the chance of injury if they do decide to walk or run out the landing. For slide-in tandem landings, Grantland (who, as the instructor, does wear a jumpsuit for his passengers’ naked tandem jumps) puts his legs together to give a lap for the passenger to sit on during landing. Eddie doesn’t want to give his students any road rash.
Being without a jumpsuit is a big enough change, so adding any other new variables to the mix such as a different rig, new canopy, new helmet or the first time in sandals is not recommended for naked newbies. “Keep as much of your normal stuff as constant as your can,” Dawson says.
Freefall speeds will be faster and the rig may position itself differently on your back. Practice touches are a good idea. Prepare your openings by packing for a slower opening, as getting “spanked” by your canopy hurts more sans suit. Your rig will “generally feel loose” on a naked skydive, says Dawson. “My leg straps are tightened about one inch more on a naked jump…and be especially careful your male equipment (if you are so equipped) is clear of the straps.” If you can’t tighten your leg straps tight enough for a naked jump, go see your local rigger to see if an adjustment can be made.
For women, the chest strap is the bigger issue. Grantland says he does position the chest strap centered or slightly above the breasts so on opening the chest strap doesn’t dig up under the breasts, or slide across the nipples, which could be painful…especially with piercings. “There are stories of piercings being ripped out during opening,” Dawson says. “Small band-aids placed vertically over the nipples will help protect the piercings from the chest strap.”
Clothing either before boarding the plane, during the climb to altitude or after landing is optional. It will depend on your comfort level, others at the drop zone and local DZ rules. If covering up before the jump, Dawson has seen the following options, although not all are necessarily recommended or allowed. So ask your local DZO, S&TA and pilot for the best option for you.
• A pair of oversized shorts can be worn over your leg straps during boarding and the climb to altitude. These can easily be removed before exit. Dawson sticks his shorts in his extra ROL pouch before exit.
• Wearing only your jumpsuit under your rig and then disrobing on the way to altitude or during a separate pass. But the danger is that you have to remove your rig and re-gear up after taking off the jumpsuit. Dawson has seen this done on a separate pass after all the other jumpers are out of the plane.
• Wearing a large t-shirt over your entire rig is another option; the shirt can be removed at some point prior to exit. Dawson doesn’t like this method as it can be dangerous in an aircraft emergency if you are unable to get the shirt back off.
• Lastly, a t-shirt and pair of loose shorts worn under your rig that can be cut off carefully is Dawson’s favorite method. This allows you to gear-up normally and not have to adjust any straps later.
For after the jump, the skydivers at Sky Knights Sport Parachute Club have an alternate landing area behind some trees where they stash some clothes. Then it’s a golf cart ride back to the hangar. “I have seen a pair of shorts carried in a fist from exit to ground. I have seen clothes ‘secured’ to leg straps and chest straps,” says Dawson. “I even once saw a guy pack his parachute with a pair of shorts inside the tail of the center cell. They were still there when he landed.” Of course, if you can stay naked the whole time, clothes are not an issue at all.
Finally, always remember the “Mo Rule,” says Dawson. “No matter what you are doing on skydive you still need those things necessary to accomplish the skydive safely.” According to Dawson, the story goes:
“Mo is a young lady who was making her first naked skydive, a hop & pop from 5k. Prior to exit she was sitting on the bench nearest to the door. She forgot to unbuckle her single point seat belt and exited. The seat belt was long enough that she got out of the door and bounced on the underside of the plane. Two jumpers managed to haul her back in the plane and she landed with it. Her only injury was a big knot on her forehead. Scary, especially with the knowledge that she was not wearing an AAD.”
So, on a naked skydive you still have to do all those things that you normally do on a clothed skydive—including all those things that save your life.
Skydive naked, baby!
[Ed: Possibly NSFW. Pictures may be unsuitable for boss, kid and/or bare-bum-hating eyes; in other words, click play at your own risk.]