Making the Jump…

In most cases with a title like that you would assume that this blog would be a larger story leading to those words as a figure of speech.  I thought at one point my friend Paul wrote a blog post on his website about making the jump to a freelance photography career from his full time job.  For me however, this is no such blog.  In fact this blog is much less about where I’m going as opposed to where I’ve come from.  Well.  More or less I guess where my Dad came from more directly, but I’m around there somewhere.

(My grandfather Ted circa 1997, 1998 taken by me with his Ricoh KSX camera and 50mm Screw mount lens.  Dusty Scan thanks to my dad who found this image for me sitting on a shelf at home). 

As most of the world knows; in 1939 World War II started.  It involved pretty much everybody.  Every nation, ever soul on earth was affected in this conflict.  My family was no different.  In 1944 my grandfather Thaddeus was drafted into the US Army.  The 11th Airborne to be exact.  Actually if I want to be even more exact he was in the 11th Airborne during the time of preparations regarding Operation Downfall for the Invasion of Japan. His job in the 11th Airborne was as a Radio Operator.  He know Morse Code, and was trained to operate a radio on the ground, in an airplane, on a horse while riding, in a tank, and while jumping out of a plane.

(Nikon D7000 “Lensy”, 800ISO, Nikon 18-105F3.5-5.6 VR@105mm.  1/160th@F9)

Last year Shannon was telling me how much she always wanted to go Sky Diving, and how it was something she considered a bucket list item.  Our friend Ben who now lives in Colorado is sort of an Adrenaline junky and has been skydiving.  He couldn’t speak highly enough about it.  Not long after Shannon talked about always wanting to go and do the skydiving I told her my grandfather’s story and this website called Groupon ran a special on Tandem Jumps.

(Nikon D7000 “Lensy”, 100ISO, Nikon 18-105F3.5-5.6VR@70mm.  1/200th@F5.3)

So I ordered them.  Without thinking.  Shannon had the idea to print out a photo of my grandfather to put in my pocket for the jump, and she had an old polaroid of her with her grandfather who owned a very similar plane to the one we jumped out of.  We took the jump at the Indiana Skydiving Center in Delphi Indiana.  Their website looks a little outdated, but these folks rock.  George is the owner, and also the guy who took Shannon and I on our Jumps.  You know those people who are passionate about what they do to the point where you can just feel the passion ooze out of their words and hand motions, and life?  That’s George.  His wife takes care of the ground work, and Steve takes care of the gear.  I didn’t get the pilots name, but they are all a well oiled machine.  We got to the Delphi Airport (yes they have one) and filled out a bunch of paperwork reminding us that what we were about to do was dangerous.  Who would have thought that Jumping from a plane at 10,000 feet would be dangerous?  Seriously?  I only misspelled my name on the form once…

(Nikon D7000 “Lensy”, 160ISO, Nikon 18-105 F3.5-5.6VR@105mm. 1/640th@F6.3)

The Indiana Skydiving Center people were fantastic.  They explained everything that was going to happen and did happen in explicit detail.  There was no wondering, there was no clip on and push; it was exactly the way it needed to be done by people that live and breathe the adventure like there is nothing else.  Shannon jumped first since I bought this as a gift for her, and she screamed at me the whole way down.  Loud enough that a few thousand feet below we could hear her….

(Nikon D7000 “Lensy”, 800ISO, Nikon 18-105F3.5-5.6VR@105mm.  1/800th@F13)

When she landed she had a smile on her face that rivaled that of the Joker’s in size.  It was priceless, and I loved being able to give it to her, as well as her idea of taking my grandfather with me was brilliant.  Actually it was exactly 12 years and 1 day since he passed on the day that we dd it, which I didn’t realize  until after we were on the ground.  Shannon wants to do it again, and next year George over at the Indiana Skydiving Center is hoping to have a space large enough for lessons.  I just might have to get her some.  I loved seeing her as happy as she was when she came down (despite being a little motion sick).  It’s hard to believe that my grandfather did that in a War-zone carrying at least 50lbs of extra stuff; not to mention was told there was an expected 0% survival rate for his regiment if they invaded Japan.  Gosh, I’m sure glad they didn’t have to do that.  Over the years it has appeared that many obstacles could have prevented my existence.  My grandfather was trained for a suicide mission to invade japan – Dodged that one.  My grandfather then joined a Seminary to become a priest to which he was kicked out some time later – for fighting.  But that’s another story.  More soon.

(Photo of me taken by Shannon)