How Skydiving Changed My Life | Calling It A Career
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How Skydiving Changed My Life | Calling It A Career

How Skydiving Changed My Life | Calling It A Career

How Skydiving Changed My Life
Sunday, March 19, 2023

Photo above by Gary Speer.

I made my first jump back in 1996, at age 39. Like many skydivers, my first jump was supposed to be my last—just a check mark on the bucket list. Instead, it became a 25-year hobby.

I never became very good at skydiving, having only logged 315 jumps over the course of my skydiving career. That’s an average of one per month for anyone counting. Those 25 years were spent entirely under a 235- or 210-square-foot canopy. I never had a desire to downsize and I never progressed beyond the A license simply because I understood I wasn’t active enough to do so. I seldom joined more experienced skydivers; I didn’t want to bomb their formations. Most of my jumps were with novice jumpers (or solos).

But I suppose my lack of skydives is the one thing that kept me skydiving for so long. The numbers never really mattered. I just enjoyed the sport, and once the adrenaline allowed, I loved the peace I found in freefall, looking atop the horizon.

My final jump occurred April 23, 2022. It was a successful deployment of my reserve following a line twist that I could not break. This was my first reserve ride, and a few days later when I announced I was finished, several skydiving friends reminded me that a successful reserve ride was simply evidence that there are sufficient safety measures in place—and those measures worked. Indeed, they were right, but to me, there was something more. I had broken line twists a half-dozen times or so throughout my jump career. No big deal. This time, though, I was unable to do so. Under a smaller canopy I could have easily blamed external factors, but flying a 210, in my mind, I should never have had the reserve ride.

I had to concede that I could no longer skydive safely. It was the same conclusion I had to make the first time I was unable to field a line drive when playing softball. So though I already miss the sport terribly, it is my time to say farewell.

That being said, my lack of jumps does not equate to a lack of memories. I have jumped in six states and in Switzerland and from hot-air balloons. But my most memorable jump came right from the hands of God. On a solo exit, I noticed a rainbow circle hovering near a cloud. As I tracked nearer, it became obvious that, if I stayed the course, I would fly through the circle. I did! It’s the one time I wish I were wearing a camera.

And more important than any jump are the friends I made throughout the years, and I am thankful for those opportunities. Thank you skydiving, thank you drop zones, thank you USPA and thank you friends for making my last 25 years of jumping so memorable.

Greg Bennett | A-28988
Seymour, Tennessee

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