How (and why) I Parachuted Out of a Boeing 727
Being a rather late bloomer, I came to the sport of
skydiving at the advanced age of 55 and immediately found myself on the fast
track in a concerted effort to earn the highest of the 4 levels of skydiving
certifications – the Master Skydiver License. I would often jump a dozen or more times every weekend. Finally, having achieved the license, I
decided to spread my newly certified wings at the 1996 World Freefall
Convention in Quincy, IL.
As a retired airline pilot who at one time was a Boeing 727
Captain, I was particularly intrigued by one of the jumps that would be
available – a skydive from a Boeing 727 jet! I was further excited about the prospect of earning a
coveted D.B. Cooper number. If you
are not familiar with the story of D.B. Cooper, here is a link to the intriguing
The day of the jump finally arrived, but I found myself a
bit apprehensive about the fact that the jump run would be conducted at a much
faster speed than I was used to exciting an aircraft. To further add to the fun of the jump, a 4-way formation was
planned with two of my skydiving buddies and one other person whom we had met. The seats had been removed from the
aircraft, which was quite packed with eager jumpers.
The jump run finally started and as I exited the rear of the
aircraft, it felt like my shoulders and skydiving rig were all going to be
ripped off as I hit the airstream.
I got myself stable, found my partners, enjoyed our formation flying and
then deployed my parachute only to discover that the Quincy airport was nowhere
to be found! I set about the task
of finding a suitable landing spot as I floated earthward. Finally, I spied a pickup truck parked
on a farm with some people in the bed apparently enjoying the festivities of
watching skydivers float down. I
rapidly spiraled down to them and landed adjacent to the truck and was greeted by
the gleeful, smiling faces of three children in the bed of the truck. The driver of the truck offered me a
ride back to the airport, and I jumped into the bed with the kids – we were apparently so far away that the
ride took 20 minutes.
During those exciting days in Quincy, I also had the
opportunity to jump out of a Super Constellation in TWA colors, a Bell
Helicopter, the world’s only flying Ford Tri-Motor, a DC-3, a hot air balloon,
and numerous “normal” jump aircraft.
I finally gave up skydiving after accumulating 657 jumps and
12 hours and 40 minutes of free-fall time. The sport had become too mundane for this adrenalin junky!