Earlier this month I published an article about my first skydive, which can be reached here. In it, I describe the exhilarating feeling one gets when jumping out of a plane, some 10,000 feet above ground. Now Good Morning America is reporting a story of an 80-year old woman whose tandem skydive last year went horribly wrong. The elderly woman, who is acknowledged in the article only as Laverne, decided to go skydiving for her 80th birthday. But as she was pushed out of the plane by her instructor, the tandem gear became loose. In the video contained within the published report, viewers can see Laverne falling to earth backwards, her rearend leading the way, and her arms clutched to her guide, as the teacher clutches on to her knees. It's an unbelievably frightening video. Luckily, Laverne managed to make it through the ordeal unscathed.
Although my first tandem skydive went off without a hitch, I can guarantee, had I observed this video or read this article before the skydive, I would've backed out. Although the United States Parachute Association affirms that skydiving fatalities are declining, and your risk of death is 0.007 percent, the viral video would have been enough for me to survive home.
The account made some interesting points that I would like to take to task. In it, the narrator questions whether Laverne was apprehensive to leap and needed a "push" or if she was really reluctant and refusing to go. When I was standing on the edge of the plane's door, I too remember freezing up. It wasn't fear, but I think it was more a natural reaction to just hold on. However, I think that skydiving instructors need to pay attention to this circumstance. This may have been the occurrence in which Laverne and her instructor became disjointed, resulting in the failed jump. In the video, you can see Laverne holding herself back and denying to jump. In my opinion, the instructor should have stepped back and allowed her to regain her composure and rethink her decision. I understand that instructors are taught to give their partner a little push, as refusal may be a natural part of the process, but this video is proof that this procedure needs to be reevaluated.
After my initial tandem skydive, I thought it might be something I would want to do again. Maybe in a few years when I can bring my nieces and nephews. However, after viewing this video, I have second thoughts. It's one thing to put myself in jeopardy, but I do not believe I will encourage my family to take this risk any longer. Yes, the rush is thrilling and it is an unbelievable experience. But it's not worth the sheer madness that Laverne went through, or even worse, death.
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