From The Mag

The Truth about Tandems

Original photo by Catie Palmer
Written by The Fuckin' Pilot

Online Reprint


“So … We’re friends now, right?”
“Yeah, for sure man. Why?”
“Well, cause I’ve gotta ask a question. I don’t know if you remember when I came out with my girlfriend and made my first skydive, but I have to know … Did you have a boner when you took her on her jump?”

Will Forchet looked at me as if I’d asked him the stupidest question ever posed to anyone in the history of mankind, and replied very matter-of-factly, “Of course I did. I jam a boner in EVERYONE’S back!”

By the time I had gotten around to asking Will that particular question, I’d been in the sport for more than a year. By then, there was no real doubt in my mind that there were some pretty over-the-top personalities in the sport, but a very rare few who decided to make it their profession. Even fewer who chose to spend their days strapping other human beings to them potentially dozens of times a day. I guess that particular combination can lead to some very strange, funny, and sometimes downright disgusting stories.

1. Dedication

JJ had been jumping his ass off all day long. It was hot, it was dusty, it was hours from sunset, and the poor guy hadn’t been feeling well from the first load. Usually, when JJ and I were jumping together, he was a total ham. He’d have a blast with both student and me on and off video, but this day was far from the usual. As I hung from the strut and watched him and his student work their way out the door, he looked simply miserable. Even so, in freefall he was in total control, and gave his student a great ride as always.

Then came the signal of “five-five” and the pull. Back then we were jumping Relative Workshop Vector Tandems with F-111 360s, and the only thing I could say when JJ’s canopy came out was, “FUCK!!” My neck actually hurt from the speed I had to look up to keep the tandem in frame it opened so fast! It was a complete train wreck.

As JJ came in for a landing, he actually slid in and sat his tandem down which, until then, was something I’d never seen him do. I actually thought he may have hurt himself on the opening, and as soon as I’d finished filming the post-jump interview with the student, I went over to make sure that he was all right.

“I shit myself.”

“Uhhhhh … ” was all I could manage to get out at first.

“Uhhhh, you did what?”
“I said I shit myself. I shit myself on opening, and it’s been running down the legs of my jumpsuit the entire canopy ride!”

I would have started laughing my ass off uncontrollably if he hadn’t looked so completely pathetic—and almost started to anyway—but just then both JJ and I heard someone yelling from across the landing area, “JJ, you’re ON THE NEXT LOAD! GET OFF YOUR FUCKING BUTT!” I, on the other hand, was not turning the load and the last thing I saw from our load was JJ run/waddling his way across the dusty landing area with what looked like desert mud caked all down the back of his suit. The crazy part? He got on that next load!

2. Lord Simeon of Kent

“I’m just ready to go skydiving,” said Simeon to the camera in the best English/effeminate accent he could possibly muster. The English part of the accent was easy because he was English, and the effeminate part kept going, because all of us were laughing hysterically. He was dressed from head to toe in the brightest pink jumpsuit on the planet, as well as sporting a very large floppy billed fuzzy pink hat with feathers around the rim, which even had a chinstrap thanks to the rigging loft.

I don’t think anyone actually believed he was going to show up to his student dressed and acting the way he was, least of all his student Herb, who just about dropped when he realized that we weren’t kidding, and this actually was his instructor. From the limp-wristed handshake, up to the almost blushing expression as Herb sat on his lap in the Skyvan for the hook-up, Sim never broke character. He didn’t break as he sauntered toward the door, didn’t break as he had an almost “O” face as he banged out the gainer on exit, and didn’t break as he offered me the same limp-wristed handshake in freefall. It was priceless, and to this day I guarantee if Herb ever had the balls to show his video to friends, none of them ever paid any attention to him.

3. Talk Radio

“It’s KFBK talk radio in Sacramento,” said the local reporter, who was out at the DZ in search of a story. She had decided that in order to talk intelligently about “extreme sports,” she really should have some type of experience with them and a skydive was what she had come up with.

PD New Beginning

“All right. Just so you know, the microphone isn’t going to pick up anything but wind noise in freefall, but you should be able to pick up the conversation once the parachute is open.”

I honestly didn’t have a fucking clue if it would pick any of it up, but it sounded good. I had run the microphone cord up to the collar of her T-shirt under her jumpsuit so that it wouldn’t end up flying all around during the jump.

As we got airborne in the PAC, she started asking all the usual questions about the jump and what was to come. She was a bit more animated than the average student, but I just assumed that it was the reporter in her and the microphone that gave me that impression. As we got hooked up in the plane, that opinion changed though, and I realized that she was just plain scared. No worries, I thought. I’ve had tons of this type and I can get her to relax, no problem.

Out the door and she was great. She arched on exit, opened her arms when I tapped her shoulders, and geeked the cameraman once he was in front of us. No problem! As the parachute opened I was pleased that she’d done as well as she had. It would undoubtedly make for a better broadcast!

“So, what did you think of that?!?” I asked.

“Oh, my god, I think I’m gonna be sick!”

Not exactly the words you want to hear from a student all of ten seconds into the canopy ride. I hopefully thought that perhaps she was just really worked up, and that some calm words following my instructions on what to do if she did have to puke would relax her quickly.

I started to speak. “Just aim do …….wn …” was all I managed to get out before all hell broke loose a mere inches in front of me. In less than a heartbeat, that woman unloaded a never-ending stream of puke and bile that seemed to shoot out of her like lava out of Mt. St. Helens! She convulsed and twitched, and burped and gurgled for what seemed like a lifetime until the barrage of spew finally ceased. As I surveyed the scene, she seemed to have suffered little to no damage from the barf bomb she’d set off. I was a devastated mess. She had managed to cover me from head to toe, somehow even managing to puke around herself to cover the entire front of my jumpsuit. After a deep breath and a bit of a chuckle, I only had one thing to say.

“Did you eat oatmeal and bananas today? ‘Cause that’s what it tastes like.”

4. Full Service Skydiving

“Grab my tits!”
“Um, what?”
“Grab my TITTIES,” said the tandem student strapped to Jim’s chest. “Grab my tits and squeeze ‘em. Squeeze ‘em HARD! It’s my fucking 45th birthday, and I want my titties SQUEEZED up here!”

Jim, being a can-do, aim-to-please kind of instructor, took a look at his altimeter, judged that he had a little altitude to play with, aimed himself toward the DZ and dropped his toggles. Jim had big hands, but the pair on his student was simply overflowing as he gently laid his hands across her ample bosom. “Squeeze!” she said, so, Jim squeezed. “HARDER!” So Jim squeezed harder and harder. Jim went right ahead and kept squeezing harder even as she started to moan, then yell, then put her hands on his and help him squeeze just that little touch more. Then, she had what Jim would later describe as an “Earth-shattering orgasm,” right before she passed out.

If you are reading this at your local DZ, then there is more than likely a tandem instructor in your midst. If that tandem instructor has been at it for more than a week or two, I can promise you there’s a story. Probably lots more than one. Probably stories a lot like this, or even stranger. Go ask him/her and I’ll bet you they’ll tell you to take a seat, ‘cause it’s a good one!

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