I know there’s something that just doesn’t seem right about the title of this piece but I do have a few words on the subject.
To begin with when I started jumping I was pretty much done with drugs. Iggy Pop’s take on the matter pretty much summed it up for me. When you’re young, your body is like a party everyone wants to come to. Everyone’s having a great time. At some point you want everyone to go home.
Skydiving is an activity for extreme personalities and it stands to reason drugs will find their way in there somewhere.
When I first started jumping I would sometimes look around for a friend I’d been jumping with and people would tell me, “Oh, he’s at a safety meeting.” I soon found out that was a euphemism for smoking dope.
For a lot of people jumping is an alternative to drugs. The experienced jumpers would say speed is your friend. Eventually I found my comfort zone in a small, very fast canopy. When you’re able to accept high velocities, you find every subtle movement affects canopy control. If you’ve ever been in the euphoria of good drugs you know the sense of control I’m talking about. Unfortunately, with drugs, every high is followed by its relative low. The crash can be terrible.
The high of velocity is more than just energy and dopamine. It’s a sense of control, a kind of dance with nature (sorry but I can’t think of a better analogy). There’s no crash, unless of course you misjudge your landing or have a malfunction with your canopy.
Once we were jumping at a friends operation in
For the most part drugs came in at the end of the day, after jumping. Just for the record drugs are not condoned in the sport. There are as many different personality types in sky diving as anywhere else.
Here are a few of my personal experiences.
I’ve already mentioned the time I got high and heckled a cop in a police station on
There were sometimes more than 4000 jumpers living in a tent city for 10 days a year every summer at our World Free Fall Convention in
The year the drop zone opened at
We were obviously drunk. The cops wanted to put him through a field sobriety test because he was the driver. The cops couldn’t believe we had come to the middle of the desert from
My friend told the cops he had relatives that were lawyers and had been told that he didn’t have to take the test. I thought either we were going to jail right then or they’d just kill us right there in the middle of nowhere. To my surprise the cops agreed and let us go. I still can’t get over it!
Eloy has since become the home of the world champion free fall team - Arizona Airspeed.
One year a good friend of mine and I went down to
Pics of me in Cessna 182, with my buddy Pat Harrington at Mike Mullins' DZ in Tennessee in the early 90s, and a 5 way for my 200th jump in 1991 (I'm upper right in sandals)