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wstrnstar

How to disarm the doomsayers?

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Sooo, the short version. Guy gets the classic birthday gift of tandem jump, makes tandem jump and realizes 2ft out from the aircraft door that life will never, ever be the same. Time passes, as do AFF1-7, all the while guy is being endlessly, relentlessly hammered with the equivalent of "you'll shoot your eye out" by friends, family, pretty much anybody that knows. Guy begins to be almost secretive about jumping, weary as hell and faintly pissed off at all the blather coming from people who haven't a clue but are quick to offer a really negative opinion. Guy breaks ankle on AFF7 landing, dumb move (asymmetrical flare), annoying as hell but nothing traumatic but also nothing he can readily downplay. Now the vultures attack in force, sounds like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir all howling "Had enough of this nonsense now? Gonna start acting your age (60) at last?"

Question: Anybody know of where I can come by a whole new circle of friends and a new family while I'm waiting for the cast to come off and get the hell back up there?

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Short answer -- talk about other stuff with your friends and family. Always have something interesting to talk about (that isn't skydiving) and eventually it'll just be a piece of it.

Rest of the answer -- you can't stop them entirely. You can, in fact, die doing this. And there are some added risks when you're older (flexibility & bone density among them). But if you always have something more interesting to talk to them about, they might eventually just start talking about all that stuff.

Wendy P.
There is nothing more dangerous than breaking a basic safety rule and getting away with it. It removes fear of the consequences and builds false confidence. (tbrown)

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Wendy, many thanks for the post; I make light of it to a degree in my own post but truth is, I was not prepared for the level of pushback I got and am still getting from folks I have always had very good relations with otherwise. I'm a 60yr-old athlete, accustomed to physical stress and hard hits all my life so I never imagined I'd catch this kind of flak from people that are frequently right there beside me when heart-stopping moments are coming down. All joking aside, I'm learning that I'm going to have to spend some time gently (and in some instances, not so gently) re-educating folks who apparently were under the impression that I was a grownup just because I have a white beard. And you're right, it's just something I'm going to have to get used to and diplomatically steer the conversation away from. The whole idea of jumping comes so naturally to me, apparently it doesn't to just everyone. Have learned that the best thing to say when asked about the ankle cast is that I twisted it in a fall and imply that that is as much as I want to discuss it.

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"Question: Anybody know of where I can come by a whole new circle of friends and a new family while I'm waiting for the cast to come off and get the hell back up there?"

Yup...join Skydivers Over Sixty, change your phone# and maybe the locks on your house and start hanging out more at the DZ where you were jumping!

And bring beer!

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Welcome to Skydiving. I started last April at age 60 and now have 50+ jumps and hope to have a jump per year when I turn 61 next month. Yes there are differences and hazards in being a mature jumper and staring late, but you sound like you have a lifetime of preparation behind you. I have found that people who stay fit and active over a long period of time tend to be quite resilient or as we say, "tougher than woodpecker lips".
Have fun, stay safe.

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well, lets say that I'm pretty much in the same boat as you at the same point in my career (1 jump behind)

I did a tandem with barely a day of notice to my wife and she freaked out. My family all said "You're so irresponsible" because "When you die who will take care of your wife, you have a mortgage, etc".

I've found that you really cant break some people of it. However, there are some options. First, you can invite them to the drop zone. I have found if people experience a lot of folks "under canopy" landing smiling and not having any major problems... it demystifies it a bit.

Really this is the tragedy of the unknown. People dont understand skydiving, people dont want to understand, they are afraid of it, and if they are afraid of it they want you to be afraid so they arent alone.

Skydiving isnt for everyone. Neither is SCUBA, motorcycles, and snowboarding. But those things dont scare people like skydiving.

Where can you find a circle of friends who gets you? Same place you do your AFF training. You're 60? Awesome. That means you're old enough to drink with us. Last time at the DZ I had a guy chat me up who had just done his tandem a week ago as a 65th anniversary gift. He was signing up for AFF. He had similar problem as you with family.

I've noticed that over time my family has lessened. I also talk to them a little less about it. Sometimes they ask and I show them a video if I have it. Or I tell them all the wonders of it.

But never fear, the DZ is full of people willing to have a beer with you. They will jump with you, teach you, encourage you, and eventually you'll have a whole new family that DOES get you.

SOrry for the long winded response, but keep your head up! The ankle will heal, the diving will continue, and friends will be made.

Act your age? What does that mean exactly? Should we buy you a rocking chair and you can sit on your front porch all day and yell at kids to get off your lawn? Seriously, 60 is young, embrace it :)
You are not the contents of your wallet.

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You could try telling them you're not some cowardly vagina who's too afraid of dying to actually live. If you're not a vindictive bastard like me, you could also just quietly tell them "I'm not afraid." Occasionally I get questions like "What if both your canopies don't open?" after I tell them I have another canopy if the first one doesn't work. I tell them "Well, then I die!" and laugh a maniacal little laugh. They kind of go away after that.

I stopped getting so much of the "You're going to die" after the first 100 or so.
I'm trying to teach myself how to set things on fire with my mind. Hey... is it hot in here?

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I got the same thing. A lot of "you're crazy" remarks especially since I am a 56 year old female just starting. I've even had a few friends cry when they knew I was going to jump. Then one day, I was crossing a bridge over the lake here and saw a bass boat going about 60mph, and it occurred to me - danger is a relative term. (I even had a t-shirt made with that on it.) Everyone here is used to seeing these fast bass boats that could hit a wave & flip over. But of course, to them, that's normal and skydiving is dangerous. I just name off a few common sports we see here (or know that they enjoy), and that will usually work. And I emphasis all the training that you go through. I think it's just a lack of understanding and lack of perspective of the sport.

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FlyingRhenquest

You could try telling them you're not some cowardly vagina who's too afraid of dying to actually live. If you're not a vindictive bastard like me, you could also just quietly tell them "I'm not afraid." Occasionally I get questions like "What if both your canopies don't open?" after I tell them I have another canopy if the first one doesn't work. I tell them "Well, then I die!" and laugh a maniacal little laugh. They kind of go away after that.

I stopped getting so much of the "You're going to die" after the first 100 or so.



this made me laugh a bit

I've had people say "well what if your reserve fails" and I say "what if your seatbelt fails? what kind of 'plan b' do you have on your motorcycle? what if your life jacket breaks when you hit the water? What if you fall down your stairs?"
Life carries risk because in the end we all die. The reality is that most people refuse to overcome fear and just live with it. They make themselves "safe" so they can die of heart attacks or diabetes or car accidents. And apparrently we should be fine with that.

Risk v Rewars is the never ending struggle. I remind people at times that skydiving accidents make national news because they are sensational and rare, but how many people daily die of car accidents?

People like to engage in groupthink, and groupthink says "we should all be afraid of this and anyone who is not afraid is crazy!"

We don't have a death wish, if we did we wouldnt be nervous when we do this
You are not the contents of your wallet.

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Well it was put like this to me one day while hanging out at the DZ.

Me and some people where talking and I was saying that it's hard to go home at night and converse about my day with the regular people in my life (not other skydivers) because they don't understand and just are not genuinely interested.

Staff Member was in the conversation and said "You won't get rid of your old friends, but you will make a lot of new ones and will hang less with your old ones!"

That being said, the DZ is the place to get a whole new circle of friends!

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Here's the thing, almost without exception, every person I talk to says "Oh... I want to try that at least once some day." For the vast majority, some day never rolls around. I've had two co-workers die this year, in accidents around their houses. Something like 30000 people die each year from falling off ladders around their houses.

You never know what's going to get you, or when. You could walk out of your house tomorrow and have a chunk of satellite debris hit you. So whenever you see something that you think you really want to try and then you start making excuses not to, you should just live your life and go do it. I'd hate to be on my death bed thinking about all the things I'd wished I'd gotten around to. My list is a whole lot shorter now than it was a couple of years ago, and I'm actively working on checking off the rest.
I'm trying to teach myself how to set things on fire with my mind. Hey... is it hot in here?

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I do have an issue with sitting on the couch all day long watching the world spin! You can hound them about that!

But, seriously, it won't last forever. I got some slack because I started when my kids were young. Most of my "friends" I had before I started jumping are not "friends" anymore. My real friends, out of respect for them, talk about other stuff! It works out in the end!

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Simple psychological constant is that people are AFRAID of skydiving and NOBODY wants to think their fear is irrational. SO they want everyone else to acknowledge their fear and say "oh yes you are so right nobody should ever do that". But secretly they all wish they had that courage. They make up for their shortcomings by trying to make sure nobody outshines them. At work, it came up a few times and people went from "You're crazy" slowly to "oh wow, can i see the videos that looks amazing, I wish I could do that" and now "so.... how much does a tandem cost? What does it feel like?"

Some people come around. My wife tries to understand it, and bought me an audible after asking "what stuff can make it MORE safe?". I cant use it yet but when i'm in the sky alone it will make her at ease.

If you have logic based friends, ask them if they realize riding a road bicycle, driving to work, driving a motorcycle, and swimming in open water (SCUBA, snorkeling, or just at the beach) are all more dangerous.

If they as me "why would you jump out of a perfectly good airplane" I show them a picture of the workhorse C182 the DZ has that I've jumped twice when the twotter was on a day off, and I ask "would YOU land in this?!?!"

I also remind them that I could get a pilots license. They go "oh you should do that" and I remind them that THAT is more dangerous than skydiving.

So what is it people are afraid of? We all have false security in our "machines". In the dive you are there, alone, alive, in complete control of your destiny. You have your safety equipment but no walls, no doors.
Nobody else in control.
You are not the contents of your wallet.

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Consider this:
When I got started jumping I was of course terrified. Shaky, pale, scared shitless. Proceeded anyway.

Spent a great deal of time in the plane observing the other, experienced jumpers, taking my cues from them... and observing that none of the old hands appeared scared in the slightest. To them, this was NORMAL.

I wanted to be THAT way. I still got butterflies and bad nerves for my first 30-40 jumps, but it got easier after AFF, easier still when I'd finally got my A license and started to feel like maybe I knew what I was doing at least a little, and by jump#50 I was -almost- calm before a jump.

The thing that kept me going and gave me a sense of perspective on the risk vs my fears, was the observation that all the multiyear veterans do this, day in and day out, and although injury and death are possibilities on any given jump, none of them seriously expect to get hurt on any given jump. They expect to just do the jump, land, repeat. They expected to be able to do this without getting hurt, all the time. Thousands of jumps' worth of it. And obviously they were right, because thats exactly what happened... every once in awhile somebody butches the landing and sprains an ankle or something, or jumps in winds they shouldn't and takes a bit of a tumble beating on landing, but for the most part, using good judgement and not-jumping when its questionable, you can have a long career at it where injury is a seldom occurrence.

So I followed that. Studied them. Did my homework. Played it conservative till I felt I knew what I was doing. Continued to play it conservative after as well. Got into wingsuits in '03 at 200 jumps about a year and a half after I started AFF. Applied the same rules to it. Dedicated my career to it.

Fast forward 10 years of nothing but wingsuits... now flying the giant suits, 4.5 minutes of freefall at a whack, and still flying on a daily or nearly daily basis whenever time and finances permit, which isn't as often as I'd like anymore since my job is now in another direction so I'm mostly a weekend jumper these days. Taking it easy, is still jumping every weekend. And after an 11 year career at it including competitions, world records, wingsuit night jumps and all manner of events big and small, I jump as casually as most people drive. With a great deal more caution and care, as befits an activity in such a high risk environment, but still, its no big deal and just like the veteran jumpers I once envied and emulated, I, too, do this all the time with a reasonable expectation of not-getting-hurt any given jump, or any given season for that matter.

Keep pushing and this can be you, too. After the first 3 to 5 years very few people will bother doomsaying you anymore since its obviously not happening. The thing to remember is that this IS a fantastically hazardous environment and you must never, ever let down your guard, but you can live in it, thrive, and be happy.
Worked for me.
-B
Live and learn... or die, and teach by example.

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Welcome to the forums! :)
True story: when I started skydiving my kids were young preteens and were taking piano lessons from a sweet, old lady who gave me a hard time about my skydiving every week we went to her house. One Saturday, I went out to the dz, did 3 jumps, had a lot of fun and no injuries. On the same day, she went to the mall, stepped off a curb and broke her ankle! I had a good laugh out of the irony of the situation and every week while she had the cast on her leg, I'd tease her that she shouldn't go shopping over the weekend because it's too dangerous! She got the point. ;)

Your friends and family probably won't relax until you've had a few years of no injuries in the sport. When you do go back to jumping, just mention that you went jumping and had a good time. While they have this attitude, there's no reason to make skydiving seem any more interesting than taking a walk in the park.
She is Da Man, and you better not mess with Da Man,
because she will lay some keepdown on you faster than, well, really fast. ~Billvon

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I applied for the USPA insurance and was amazed it was cheaper than my existing coverage. When I asked, the agent said: "Well, your cholesterol used to be higher, you used to be on meds for it, and you were 15 lbs heavier. That calculates to far more risk than skydiving so your rate just went down adding the rider for extreme sports related death or injury".

So, the moral of the story: if you dont want to die, you gotta go live ;)
You are not the contents of your wallet.

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You asked: "Question: Anybody know of where I can come by a whole new circle of friends and a new family while I'm waiting for the cast to come off and get the hell back up there? "

Answer: You already did...the day you started jumping!

_________________________________________
The older I get, the better I was!

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I dare say that I could only repeat what has already been written here with perhaps one angle, the great sense of community in the sport of skydiving. It's not a stretch for me to state that the people at my DZ are more than friends, they have become an extended family interested in skydiving, improving our skills and craft and helping each other along. When jump ops are over and the green light is on, many of us stay to put the planes in the hangar and once all is locked and secure for the next jump day, we usually have dinner together at one of several favorite restraunts. Dinner over, we leave to go to our separate homes knowing that in the next five or six days, we'll be back at it. This is indeed is a rare community to be a part of and sadly, I must say, that for the naysayers, it is their loss not ours. Visitors are always welcome to watch at our DZ but they will never know the joy of free fall until they decide to take those steps.

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Re-educating your inner circle is the key.

MOST people don't know a skydiver that is current, someone who enjoys the sport on a regular basis...they base their knowledge on the horror stories passed down - most of which is BS anyway.


Get some real time in the saddle & fill a few logbooks and they usually calm down.

I still get the occasional 'don't you know how dangerous that is' from newer acquaintances...when I tell them I've been doing it professionally for almost 40 years and have never been injured - they seem to then have a little different take on the sport.

Nobody ever tells THOSE stories...they aren't as 'interesting' as the blood & guts! ;)










~ If you choke a Smurf, what color does it turn? ~

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I remind people that car accidents, shootings, and death from chronic preventable disease is so common it doesn't make the news. A skydive accident is SO uncommon that it hits CNN before we can post it in here ;)

Over time, even the naysayers lose the ability. I showed them videos of my jumps and I'd get the "you're crazy... but that looks soooooo cooool". Or "You don't LOOK scared". Or even "you have so much more control than we thought". Sometimes I get the "why are you looking at your watch" or "what do you do if it doesn't open". Sometimes demystifying really helps.

Hell, I lost about 1/2 the naysayers who didn't know we had come as far as an AAD and that even if I did nothing I'd end up with a reserve deploying. Explained FAA regulation, more gone. Went and brought a few to the DZ and more gone.

People fear what they don't know. My wife did NOT support this until... damn probably yesterday! ha! But she finally watched the videos and some others and something clicked. Now she just wants to go to the DZ and meet some other non-jumping spouses and watch the pretty canopies come back to earth so elegantly.

Don't give up :)
You are not the contents of your wallet.

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So, your whuffo friends and family will never get it. You can show them all the statistics, like for example, the fatality rate in skydiving is 1 in 225,000 while the fatality rate on treadmills ( yeah, those treadmills in the gym ) is 1 in 10,000 and they still won't get it. You are doing battle with a thing called beleif. Facts, truth, logic, reason and data are utterly useless weapons in the arsenal when pitted against the baseless claims of beleif. They will ALWAYS go for that story from the guy they work with who had an uncle, who had a cousin, who had a brother, who had an army buddy, who had a friend, who had a girlfreind, who had an ex boyfriend who went jumping and this AWFUL thing happened ( plus the fact that said thing CAN'T happen). And you are competely powerless to sway them, so don't even try.

Your life has changed for the better and you won't be able to drag your old life with you. Embrace it and welcome to the bonfire.:)B|
Skydivers don't knock on Death's door. They ring the bell and runaway... It really pisses him off.
-The World Famous Tink. (I never heard of you either!!)
AA #2069 ASA#33 POPS#8808 Swooo 1717

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Quote

How to disarm the doomsayers?



I just never talk to them about it. Seriously. I try to limit the number of people who know I jump, I never start a conversation about it, and if someone starts one, I try to shut it down as quickly as possible. There really is no other way.

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Hi WS,
Welcome!! Good ya' made the leap, but yer' dealin' with 60 yrs. of "Baggage!!" I started when I was 18, am 68 now. Whufs were always on the other side of the fence. Spent my whole life around Parachutes. besides just Fun Jumpin' I worked with aerospace parachutes. Definitely get up with "POPS" and "SOS!!" And remember like the sayin' in POPS is,"'Ya don't quit Skydivin' cuz ya' get old, 'ya get old cuz 'ya quit Skydivin'!"
SCR-2034, SCS-680

III%,
Deli-out

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