Friday, August 28, 2009

Flashback FRIDAY - they say your life flashes before your eyes.....

It was June 13th of 2003; you could feel the excitement in the air as Dan prepared for his first “Night Jump”. At ONLY jump #87 he was VERY lucky to get a jump ticket for the ride up to altitude. But, leave it to Cookie to talk his way onto a plane – even if it was 13 jumps too early.
He is always the exception to a rule.

My brother, Andy, and his soon-to-be bride, Karrie, had joined us in Chicago for the big event. Skydivers were everywhere; taping GLO sticks to their jump suits. Checking and re-checking their gear. The kids and I were told that we could drive the van out onto the edge of the airstrip. They remember feeling excited that they got to sit ON TOP of the mini van. As the plane took off, we all turned on our headlights, as the skydivers would use them to see the landing zone as they approached.

Jump #87 went off without a hitch.
Imagine seeing it for the first time.
The earth’s evening lights from the sky.
Cookie describes it as “a breathtaking and awesome site.”

For all you NON-skydivers - Number 1 rule of a night jump – THE FIRST thing you do after you land is check in with your S&TA, so they can make sure everyone is accounted for. Cookie landed safely, and immediately went to find his S&TA, as instructed. The mini van was NO-where near the hanger, so he did not stop to let his family know he had landed safely, he simply followed SKYDIVER protocol.

Two thumbs up for him. (Said in perfect Kristie sarcasm)

As none of us had ever attended an official “Night Jump” before, we really did not know what to expect. As we began to realize that all of the jumpers had landed, and we hadn’t seen Cookie, we became concerned. Andy and I were engaged in a worried conversation as we heard a VERY loud noise.
The noise became louder and louder.
We all froze and stared into the sky.
The lights on the airplane came QUICKLY into view, although it became apparent that they were approaching WAY TOO quickly.

My thought was – one of the engines must have gone out.

We all realized that the plane was going to crash. The question was, how close would it be to our mini-van?
They say your life flashes before your eyes.

With tears in my eyes, I screamed and desperately grabbed for my children on top of the van, but never connected with their little bodies.
Andy left his bride standing speechless and literally dove UNDER the mini van, head first, while he screamed, “SEPTEMBER 11th!!”

At the VERY last second, the plane leveled out just above my children’s head.

It took a full 60 seconds for us to realize that all the other cars were honking their horns. People were screaming. Not because they were scared, but because they were celebrating! The plane safely landed just beyond the row of cars.

Wait, what?

Apparently, it is a tradition at official “Night Jumps” for the pilot to do an average FLY-BY, only the goal is to get as low as physically possible……. Hmmmm… might’ve wanted to know THAT ahead of time.

They say your life flashes before your eyes.
Mine didn’t.

But, was that because my body knew I really wasn’t going to die?

Or was it simply because I was so incredibly angry at my selfish brother, that I couldn’t think of anything that had happened in my short life?

I mean COME ON….
He could’ve attempted to grab at least ONE of the kids?
Or his soon-to-be wife?
Or AT LEAST his incredibly cool and smart BIG sister.......

Logbook #87 -

Cookie preparing for his first "Night Jump" -


Grandma KIM said...

LAUGH-OUT-LOUD!!!!! I remember hearing the story of your baby brother 'saving himself', diving under the van, and leaving you all to die! (Come on think you're EVER gonna live that one down?!?!)
Dan looks SO young.....what the heck happened????

Anonymous said...

3 kids and a wife and a new dog! THATS what happened! ? LOL

Love your re telling Trit!!! You missed your calling! I'm telling you need to write a book! It would be a best seller!