Thursday, April 15, 2010

Skydiving 101

This is the final chapter in a series of four posts I've shared about a trip my husband and I made to the Mississippi Gulf Coast. If you would like to read the first three, you can click on the links below.

A Trip to the Mississippi Gulf Coast
Backroads Lagniappe

We love traveling backroads when time is not a factor, and on the way home from the Coast, we veered off the beaten path of U.S. Highway 49 onto Mississippi Highway 13, north of Gulfport. As I mentioned in my previous posts, our trip was filled with lagniappe ... and I've saved the most exciting for last.

Highway 13 is a rural state road running north and south, and is surrounded by farmlands and the DeSoto National Forest. After traveling uneventfully for a while, we passed through a small town called Lumberton, which is located about 58 miles north of Gulfport.

On the outskirts of Lumberton, I noticed something high in the distant sky and hurriedly grabbed for my camera. After fumbling around for what seemed like forever trying to change to my zoom lens, I was able to catch these two "fuzzy" pictures of the mysterious-looking "object" in the sky, which, by now, had almost drifted out of sight behind some pine trees.

Needless to say, I was delighted and very excited by what I saw through my lens -- the "mysterious flying object" was a skydiver!

My husband said they were probably having a jump somewhere close by, and, of course, I got excited thinking I might have an opportunity to get some more, and hopefully better, pictures.

A couple of miles down the road, I couldn't believe my luck when we passed this sign ...

And this building ...

And saw this sign up close ...

And there was even a plane waiting to take its next load of jumpers up!

We pulled into the parking lot and I grabbed my cameras and we walked over to get a closer view of what was going on. It seemed that our timing was perfect ... a Gold Coast Skydiving staff member was briefing a group of new jumpers for their first jump. I asked if it was all right if I took pictures for my blog and was told that they would be pleased for me to.

We edged a little closer to where the instructor was talking to the new jumpers and I, trying to be as inconspicuous and unobtrusive as possible, captured the following pictures:

Gold Coast has several videographers who record the jumps from beginning to end, and I took the following pictures of a pretty young lady named Aimee Davis, as she was being interviewed by one of the videographers before her jump (Aimee is a second grade teacher from Zachary, Louisiana, and graciously gave me permission to use her name and pictures in this post).

We talked with Aimee later and found out what led her to jump out of a perfectly good airplane. It seems that Aimee's sister, Megan, gave her boyfriend, Grayson Kirkindoll, a skydiving jump for his 25th birthday. Grayson said that skydiving was on his list of "Things To Do Before I Get Too Old," so now he can officially mark that one off his list. Megan didn't share Grayson's affinity for skydiving and was perfectly happy to watch from the ground. But her sister Aimee said she would like to try it, and decided to jump with Grayson.

I took this picture of Aimee, Megan, and Grayson immediately after the jump, and they were all smiles ...

Since we arrived as Aimee and Grayson were preparing for their first jump, I tried to focus on their experience. They say pictures are worth a thousand words, but there's no way my pictures could fully capture Aimee's and Grayson's excitement. They were just beaming, and were totally thrilled with the whole experience. I'm so glad we were there to see it, and I appreciate them and the Gold Coast staff allowing me to take pictures.

Time to board

Lift off!Climbing to 14,000 feet!

Here comes Aimee!

So far, so good!

A smooth landing ...

Wobbly legs, Aimee?

Oh, be still my heart!I can't believe I did it!

Let me catch my breath a minute!

Grayson's turn!

It just doesn't get any smoother than that!

Megan calling home to say, "They're okay!"

Gold Coast Skydivers has one of the most experienced staffs in the skydiving industry, averaging over 25 years experience. Their senior staff members include four world record holders and a three-time world champion.

The tandem skydive is by far the most popular choice for first time jumpers. Requiring only ten minutes of instruction, the student is attached to an instructor with a special harness, and they both exit the aircraft together and descend under one parachute. During the entire skydive, the instructor is safely guiding the student.

We were told that the plane is a Super Otter, the only jump plane certified to fly military operations on the Gulf Coast. The jumping altitude is 14,000 feet!

One of the most important, if not THE most important, job at Gold Coast is packing the chutes. David Fortner is the Master Packing Instructor for Gold Coast, and has been with them since 1998. He has over 360 jumps and way over 18,000 pack jobs. That's David standing in the background of this picture.

I'd like to again thank the staff at Gold Coast for allowing me to take pictures and feature them in this blog post. I was so impressed with their professionalism and care and concern for the safety of the jumpers.

If you ever have an opportunity to be near Lumberton, Mississippi, I hope you will stop by Gold Coast and witness for yourself the thrilling experience of skydiving. They jump year-round, weather permitting, on Saturdays and Sundays, 9:00 a.m. until sunset.

If you would like to learn more about skydiving and see some truly awesome professional pictures of skydivers, you can visit Gold Coast's web site by clicking here.

I also created the following slideshow which features more of my pictures. Be sure your sound is turned up if you'd like to hear the music.

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow:


Stacey said...

How fun for those kids! You got some great pictures of that big adventure. My son jumped with his friends last month. I wasn't there because we were on a college visit. Good thing!

Beth at Aunties said...


These pictures were so fun to see. How wonderful for you to be able to experience this adventure with your new friends. Our son is a pilot and loves these thrills. It makes my heart Fantastic shots!!!

I am glad I stopped by today. My life has been running too furious for me to keep up (or blog) right now.
Take care,

Deb said...

wow you were in the right place at the right exciting...would not want to do the jump was sure fun to see them do it though...great photos...