Saturday, November 17, 2007

Freefall Wedding

Early in 1993 my girlfriend Kim announced she was pregnant. Being that she was a good Catholic girl I suddenly found myself engaged. I always knew some day I would have kids but if we had waited until I was ready it never would have happened.

The first order of business was meeting her parents. Kim is 11 years younger than I am and her parents were shocked at my age. Her mother told her she didn’t know if she’d feel comfortable calling me son. The feeling was mutual.

Two weddings were planned, one for us and one for Kim’s folks. I’m going to talk about ours.

A friend of mine named Dennis Jett was a Viet Nam vet and an ordained minister. I always suspected he was ordained through the mail from some psychedelic San Francisco church. He was also a very experienced skydiver and offered to marry us in freefall.

I was tending bar at the Venice CafĂ© at the time and my friend Jeff Lockheed knew John Pertzborn. There’s nothing a skydiver loves more than a camera. Pertzborn was supposed to show up and put us on the news.

The big day came on a chilly, overcast day in October. I taught the first jump course that morning and the wedding would be in the afternoon. The weather was so nasty Pertzborn blew it off but we were determined.

Kim’s parents and a lot of our non-skydiving friends showed up at the Vandalia, Il. airport for the first time. There were 15 people in the wedding party and Sam Johnson was our camera person.

We had a formation planned that had the minister, maid of honor, best man, bride and groom in a circle. The rest formed an aisle behind us and we were supposed to turn after the kiss and fly through them.

At 14,000 feet we exited right into an ice cloud. Everyone was flying with their hands covering their faces. It was like being sand-blasted. My best man, Bob Mudge, gave up and Dan Wright flew in to take his place.

We went through the ceremony motions, I kissed the bride, we turned and got out of there. Kim landed and slipped on ice. She did the most spectacular tumble in front of her parents. I thought her dad was going to kill me for making her jump when she was pregnant.

Bob must have thrown the ring down in disgust. I found it on the ground as soon as I landed.

The ice pellets actually drew blood through our jump suits. My buddy Rob Walsh would talk about it for years as his worst skydiving experience. He died in a terrible plane accident 2 years ago with another good skydiving buddy of mine Scott Cowan.

A great thing about skydivers is they’re easy to please. I bought a half barrel of beer for the reception and that’s all it took. Kim brought a cake but no one touched it.

Sam left his camera helmet on and video taped the whole party. He got drunk and forgot he had it on. He was busted by his girl friend later when the tape revealed an awful lot of girls’ asses.

For the next eleven years I became a family man. The kids are a fantastic experience. They both took to music immediately. Dylan plays piano and trombone. Chloe plays piano and flute. They’re both picking up guitar right now.

The pictures show Chloe’s first piano recital, she is playing Franz Liszt’s Piano Sonata in B minor, and Dylan’s first incarceration.


Anonymous said...

Doggie: I don't even remember Jeff telling me about your wedding! I would not have missed it for the world. If the weather was bad that day, all the more reason I would have been there as to show how crazy it was. How about you guys do it again on your date and I will be there. P.S. Jeff must have been mistaken, maybe he was talking to the late Herb Humphries.

Congratulations and call me when you plan to jump.

John Pertzborn Fox News St. Louis

Doggie said...

Doggie said...

Sorry John you didn't make it so we're no longer married. We have no regrets though, the kids were worth it. To be fair Jeff said he would get in touch with you but I never confirmed. Love your work!

jamie said...


That was one of the most painful skydives I can remember. I've been enjoying reading your blog. DJ, that brings back some memories.


Doggie said...

The last year of the convention I met someone who didn't believe I knew Kirk or DJ. He called them on his cell. I was on the phone for hours. We're going to the chili party. Miss you guys. Please come!!!!!!

jamie said...

The Chili Party! My favorite ended with DV throwing chairs across the hangar at the band.
Sorry we couldn't make it. We were in Mexico last weekend.

M1ke said...

After a discussion with my Dad about the feasibility of a wedding in freefall I Googled it and ended up here! Cool story, well done going through with that - I've jumped through hail before and it was bad but no bleeding, ouch.

Blue skies!

Doggie said...

Several people I know have gotten married in FF since we did. Lots of different ways. Some had their preacher fly tandem. Some began the ceremony in the plane, continued in freefall and finished on the ground. Thanks for posting,
Blue skies!

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