A skydiving acquaintance of mine was seriously injured during a jump Monday afternoon. Douglas “Spot” Spotted Eagle pulled out of his final turn too low. He crashed to the ground at about 20 mph, breaking his pelvis and injuring his back.
“This was entirely pilot [skydiver] error,” Spotted Eagle told the Transcript Bulletin. “The parachute deployed perfectly fine. It was a normal dive until the last two or three seconds. I lost grip on my toggle.”
He is expected to make a full recovery.
I mention the incident here because it was Spot who talked me into jumping out of a plane last summer (read about that here).
I conducted an extensive interview with him the day of my jump. I asked him to list his motivations for skydiving. His first response? “It’s a serious responsibility. How many other situations in life do you have complete control over?”
Makes perfect sense to me.
Spot is a videographer with Skydive Utah, a job that in my book takes some serious cojones. Aside from concentrating on executing their own safe dive, videographers spend most of their jump filming somebody else, using helmet-mounted video and still cameras (the still camera is controlled with a special tongue switch).
When the plane reaches jumping altitude (around 13,000 feet), the videographer climbs out onto the fuselage to get an outside-in shot of jumpers approaching the exit platform. He then falls backward to film their exits from below. He spends the entire fall focusing on the jumpers, then times his own landing such that he is down and ready to film their landings.
Yes, skydiving is dangerous, but considering that Spot has 1,400 jumps under his belt, you could say he’s had a pretty safe run to this point. Everybody I know at Skydive Utah is highly trained and uber-competent. I have no qualms about jumping with them again this summer.
“People spend their whole lives working to have a life, but life’s not about working to live,” he told me the day of my jump. “Live while you’re alive. If you wait til you’re 80 to enjoy life, you’ll not have the body nor the mind to appreciate whatever you’ve been working for.”
Here’s wishing him a speedy recovery and many more jumps afterward.