It was in the spring of 1990 that I learned the meaning of “Trust.” Sitting in the door of a plane, 3200 feet over the Virginia countryside, I was faced with trusting my instructor, this strange pack of parachute equipment, and all those that had prepared it for me. The previous six hours of training, and weeks of talking to my skydiver friend did little now to comfort me as this time it was me waiting for my turn.
As we had practiced in class, I covered my ripcords and waited for his signal. My instructor, his head out the doorway of the small plane checked out progress over the ground, and gave last minute hand signals to the pilot, directing him to the exact spot over the ground where I should start to exit. Over the roar of the plane’s engine and the pounding of my heart, I heard Kevin’s commands: “Put your feet on the step”… “Climb out”… “Hang from the strut”… Each time, putting his words into my actions, I realized that all the preparation was culminating for this next command. Hanging from the wing strut of a Cessna 182, I look in at the instructor. Waiting for him to give the command that will change my life… “GO!!!” And I do…
Since that day, I have learned to trust a lot of people. Now it is my turn to be trusted by another. Ten years later, I stand in the door of a twin-engine Westwind, looking quickly out the door and setting my stance. The student, hands across her chest, looking out at the horizon waits for me, her Tandem Skydiving Instructor, to say the word.
This is not my first tandem skydive, that was with a Tandem Course Director. But it is two very important firsts, it is her first skydive and my first novice passenger. All of the others to have jumped with me over the last few weeks have been experienced skydivers who knew what they were doing and how to keep themselves safe. Now, this student trusts me with her life. She does not know me, and it will not be until later on the ground that she will know the significance that this particular skydive will have for me as well.
For the first time, I truly understand both sides of that Trust.
This first-jump, like mine years earlier, goes well and leaves an indelible mark on the student. Skydiving changes the jumper, even if they have no drive to make another. The trust it takes to make that first step also marks the individual. My I never fail to live up to the trusts placed in me.
© 1999 by Jim Wine
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