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Comment : some background
Posted by anton verhulst on Wed 2:52pm 17 December 2003


I just read Nick's story about his mishap while landing at the end of a tandem parachute jump. I flew hang gliders for over 15 years and never broke a thing. I sprained an ankle once and cut my upper lip once (2 stitches) but that was it.

I fly sailplanes now and I'm also a licensed flight instructor (see my web page at http://home.comcast.net/~verhulst/SOARING).

My fracture is aviation related only in that it happened just after I left the airport. I stopped by my brother's house on the way home and he was building a tree house for his kids. Part of his back yard has a fairly steep grassy slope. We were working on the tree house and it started to rain its brains out. Heading for the house I started down the slope and I remember saying to myself "the grass is slippery from the rain - this is risky - I have to be careful....oops". I'm not making this up.

Anyway... back to sky diving for a bit. For about 6 years, my glider club (http://www.soargbsc.org) shared an airport with a commercial sky diving school (Pepperell MA, USA). It got to the point where I didn't even look up anymore when the ambulance rolled onto the field. I think that, basically, sky diving is a safe sport. The problem is that a nice stabilized landing into the wind doesn't impress the ladies on the ground - and so you see these guys making fancy radical turns close to the ground. Sometimes they miss-judge. One time I saw an ambulance on the field retrieving the latest victim and a guy, coming in for a landing, decided to impress the ambulance crew. He got to ride in the ambulance too.

Even when you do everything right, shit can happen. When you participate in a potentially risky sport, you have to accept the risks - or stay home.

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