On a spring day in 1981 I made my first parachute jump under an old military T-10: A big round olive green ‘chute blossoming over my head just seconds after letting go of the strut of a Cessna 205, 2500 feet above a snow covered Colorado wheat field.


Photo courtesy of North London Skydiving Centre



I was 27 years old.  My life at that time was proving quite a challenge.   I was divorced; a mother, a nursing student.  Money was scarce, I was working and going to school, trying to rebuild my life.   Jumping out of an airplane was one of the scariest thing I had ever done.  So frightening and so exhilarating that I had to do it again.  And again.  And well over a thousand times more.  I became a certified freefall jumpmaster, then a skydiving instructor.  I made lifelong friends and I competed in Nationals on a four-way team with Bob Russell, a man who I’ve been married to for nineteen years this November.


Two freefall jumpmasters with a student in the middle.  Photo courtesy of North London Skydiving Centre.


For more than a decade, skydiving was my passion.  I still dream of it.  Some of my best friends are skydivers or former skydivers, and once a skydiver always a skydiver, it’s like a secret society.


 Skydive Arizona, in Eloy; a skydiving resort and home of the U.S.P.A. 2011 Nationals




Photo courtesy of North London Skydiving Centre

I haven’t made a skydive in over a decade but I still have my gear.  Bob just took his in to have his reserve ‘chute repacked — just in case.  We’ve been temporarily living in Tucson, 50 miles from one of the premier drop zones in the world:  Skydive Arizona .  Home of the United States Parachute Assoication National Skydiving Competition.  Which Bob and I competed in twenty years ago this month with our friends Steve and Mike.  Yesterday we met Steve at Skydive Arizona and enjoyed a heartwarming reunion.  Also at Eloy this year is my first jump course instructor and friend, Ellen Bakke Monsees; a world class competitor on Moxie, a winning all-female team.

Moxie: A world-call, all-female skydiving team.  Like them on Facebook  

Two of my teammates, twenty years after

I gave up skydiving a decade ago but I still dream about it.   I remember how it felt to leave my cares on the ground, to live an entire lifetime in fifty-five seconds of freefall,  the earth far away but not forgotten and too quickly approaching.