SKYDIVING    Please scroll down
Airplanes are unsafe, jump out of 'em
SAILING                                 Click here
The art of getting wet and often very sick
ZORBING                             Click here
It takes
BALLS to do this - and a HILL
AUSTRALIA                         Click here 
Skydiving down-under means falling UP
GLAD TO BE DAD             Click here
But somestimes it can be scary

BEING AN ACTOR              Click here 
FILM ... another 4-letter CUSS
word that starts with "F"


Dick McMahon

A skydiver I know, Vic Napier, has written a scholarly paper on risk homeostasis theory.  There's evidence, he suggests, that as skydiving has become more safe, deaths in the sport have remained about the same because of a genetic need jumpers have to maintain a certain level of risk.

It's a fascinating subject.  But risk homeostasis isn't limited to skydivers, EVERYONE is affected. It can be seen in the way people gamble, the way they take medicine, how they make business decisions, and especially in how they drive.

Whuffo you jump out of airplanes?

I’ve given a lot of thought to this question.  The reason may involve risk homeostasis … but, for me, it probably has something to do with being a skinny kid growing up.  There were times I worried about getting my ass kicked at school. 

Jumping out of airplanes may be a way of proving something to myself.  Besides, falling down doesn’t take much skill.  All I know is that one taste of the adrenaline “high” that comes with skydiving addicted me and I wanted more ... in spite of being hurt several jumps later (please see log book below).

Dick McMahon
Just pulled my ripcord

Just before leaving an airplane, skydivers shake hands for "good luck". Then one of them shouts, "DOOR" and cold air rushes in. After that comes the best part ... poking my head out to look down at the airport 12,000 feet below and just "going for it" with a leap into nothing but air.  

Glancing back up at the airplane, it will suddenly become very small and distant.  Now I'm "flying" for 60-secs or so ... something the human body isn't supposed to do!  Before opening my parachute my arms will be like the wings of an eagle riding a thermal.   And, if I decide to track horizontally across the sky, I'll become SUPERMAN racing to save Lois Lane.

     Ever since I was a kid I've wanted to do that. 
     My mom let me use a big bath towel for a cape
     and I'd run up-and-down the street flapping my
     arms for takeoff.

There's also a lot to see ... distant mountains & lakes, fluffy clouds slowly moving UPWARD around me, and other jumpers a few feet away (although they're pretty ugly to look at in freefall because the air rushing up from the ground pushes their faces into strange shapes.)


Skydiving has definite risks, of course. It can mean DEATH for even the most experienced skydiver. Whatever dreams he has for the future are on the line when he stands at the open door of an airplane in flight.  He needs to decide if the rewards of jumping are worth the risks. 

Strange as this may sound, the "fear of dying" is part of the fun ... creating an intense awareness of being ALIVE.  There's no better way to feel alive than feeling you're about to die.  And facing the fear head-on, knowing you have the ability to save yourself, results in a feeling of self-confidence like nothing else ... one that seems to affect everything else you do in life. 

Human beings are the only animals on the planet that put themselves in danger because it's fun!  The feeling of getting away unhurt is so awesome it's almost like a drug-addiction.  Maybe that explains why skydivers have so many parties at the end of the day.  They're so happy they survived!


Dick McMahon
The stewardess on this flight asked me to show where the emergency exits are.

Naked Skydiving
This isn't me!

It's a crazy tradition that JUMP-100 is supposed to be done naked! At first I worried about that. Landing wouldn't be too bad because I'd have an open parachute to wrap around me, but getting to the airplane for takeoff is a different story!

Most jump planes are too small for removing one's clothes and safely putting on a parachute rig while in flight. So, the real challenge is ... how to maintain some form of dignity walking through the hangar and outside to the airplane wearing NOTHING but a parachute rig on your back! Sure as hell, one of the jeering skydivers watching it all happen will be taking pictures for the next party.  (Sample photo at left)

Well, I'm not going to worry about that now. There are still 18 more jumps to go. Besides, I'm ready now to face my biggest fear of all ... Karaoke!


Probably the first risky thing I ever did was as a little kid when I ran away from home.  I was smart, though, I packed a couple of bananas and some potato chips to sustain me the rest of my life.  Later as a teenager, a buddy of mine, Cecil Higginson, suggested taking an unconventional elevator ride in a Denver skyscraper. He worked for the elevator company and my ride involved climbing into the shaft and on top of the passenger compartment, then holding on to the cables while he sent the elevator soaring to the top of the building and back down. There was a lot of grease on my hands when it was over.


Searching for gold in the Superstition Mountains

At 24-yrs old, being a gullible student at Arizona State, there were lots of weekend trips into the desert searching for the Lost Dutchman gold mine, as well as spelunking in Colorado caves.  And during a trip to Europe I unexpectedly became lost in Moscow!  The only Russian word I knew at the time was "pivo" (which means "beer").  Repeatedly saying PIVO doesn't help much if you're lost in Russia.  

In an attempt to master Spanish I lived with Benedictine monks for a while at a Mexican monastery. The risky part of that were the occasional trips into Mexico City aboard rickety old buses speeding down narrow mountain roads.  One of the drivers once told me their motto is, "Es mejor ser muerto que ser tarde" (better to be DEAD than late).  After getting to the city safely I sometimes posed as a priest to get a free room for the night ... which may have been risky too, I suppose (and probably a sin).

Later there was an opportunity to sit in the same chair Pope John Paul II was using during World Youth Day in Denver (he wasn't in it at the time, of course).  I had just gotten comfortable and begun to think about making some important new theological decrees when they asked me to leave.

There are more crazy things on other pages of this site ... sailing aboard the tall ship Endeavour, Zorbing, B-A-S-E jumping (by cable), Bungee jumps, and being a Ghost Buster.   Hope you like reading stuff like this! 

 Number of skydives now = 82
 USPA License:  A-40653
 Licensed to have fun
 Freefall time:  65-min 19-secs
Vertical distance
 Freefall:  113.6 miles   (182.9 km)
 Under canopy:  62.2 miles   (100 km)
 Plane to planet:  175.8 miles   (282.9 km)
Total cutaways:  1


of the first 19 jumps ...
                    Click here
Dick McMahon

LINKS to other pages

Sailing Endeavour
Being Dad
Being an Actor

Other Skydiving sites

Thanks for visiting this web site.  It's dedicated to my son and daughter, my grandkids, and especially to a very understanding wife.  
Being called an ADVENTURER is "cool".  INSANE has an ugly sound to it.
Copyright © 2004 by 
Dick McMahon  

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