By Glenmore Jones
Register Golf Columnist
It’s funny that it took me 90 years to screw up the courage to do something that I always wanted to do, that was to jump out of an airplane with a parachute and land on the Madison Country Club Golf Course on my 90th birthday.
After researching this I found out you could not parachute on to private property. I also could not find any air service that let you parachute out of an airplane.
So the next best thing was to skydive.
I had wanted to drop maybe 100 feet before the parachute opened, but I had not figured on dropping 5,000 feet.
The two things that inspired me to do it were George H.W. Bush, a man I greatly admire, skydiving when he was 85 years of age and seeing a kid with an inscription on his shirt saying “Failure is not an Option.”
That did it.
I booked a reservation from Skydive Kentucky for myself and my grandson, Tyler Jones, for a jump on Sunday, June 16 at the Addington Airport in Elizabethtown. Ty is a senior at Eastern Kentucky University and a talented trumpet player in the band.
On jump day, my wife, Carolyn, Tyler and I drove to Elizabethtown and met with the owners of Skydive Kentucky, professional skydiver Jim Moore and his wife, Tammy.
We were able to watch several jumps come in and then it was our turn for a briefing and instructions. Then out to the tarmac where a single-engine high wing Cessna plane was sitting. The seats in the rear had been removed and there was a four-foot opening in the side of the airplane where you jumped out.
I was suited out in a jumpsuit that fitted very snuggly and had an altimeter and camera on my left wrist.
Boarding the plane was a little tough for me. Jim Moore went in first and sat on the floor. I then climbed in and sat snuggled between his legs. The tough part for me in the tight quarters was bending my old arthritic legs and swinging them around to the right far enough to get them clear of the opening.
All settled in we go roaring off down the runway and lifting off on our 15-minute ride to 10,000 feet. On the way up, Jim Moore hooked up the four connections from his jump halter to mine.
When we attained our altitude of 10,000 feet Jim tapped my leg and we moved back as far a possible and I swung my legs out of the plane. Jim turned my camera on and we both grabbed the side of the opening and on the count of two we went plummeting into space!
The next 30 seconds, when you are falling at a speed of 130 to 140 miles per hour for 5,000 feet, is by far the most thrilling thing I have ever done in my life.
Wow! Wow! Wow!
When that parachute opened and my heart was still beating I thanked the Man upstairs over and over for looking after me!
The next 5,000 feet parasailing to the ground was so quiet, so beautiful and relaxing it was one of the rare moments of my life. What added to the fun was Jim throwing the control ropes of the parasail over my shoulders and letting me control our descent for a couple of thousand feet.
On landing Jim dropped us fast the last 100 or so feet and then stopped the fall fast and we floated in for a soft landing as Jim had instructed I dug my heels in and sat down gently.
When the dive was over I was the most relieved and thankful person in the world. For a couple of weeks I had been having a battle of negative and positive thoughts.
On the negative side, the thing that concerned me most was I had a big birthday party coming up with over 100 people invited and I might not be there.
I also wondered if I was brave enough or would I chicken out when I got up there ready to jump.
I have always been more positive than negative and it won the battle.
The Optimist Creed kicked in with “to be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind,” and “to look on the sunny side of everything and make your optimisms come true.”
Mark Twain said, “Ninety-five percent of the things you worry about never happen.”
John Wayne said it best when he said, “When you are scared of doing something, saddle up anyway.”
That is what I did and I am proud I made myself do it. Every time you whip a fear of something you are a stronger person.
I feel bad that my grandson didn’t get to jump. He was all suited up and in the airplane and a storm came in and they canceled the jump after an hour wait. Tyler will do the jump in the near future however.
Special thanks to our host, competent Jim Moore, and his wife, Tammy, of Skydive, Kentucky for an exciting experience that I shall never forget.
Until next time ... live, love, laugh and learn, Glenmore.