Accelerated Free Fall Level 1 (Part I)

I finally got to do my first solo dive under the Accelerated Free Fall program (a precursor to obtaining one’s skydiving license) earlier today!  I was due to dive after my five-hour classroom session last Thursday, but clouds got in the way.  In light of my getting “owned” by the wind tunnel last Thursday, today’s free fall phase went surprisingly well.

The landing was quite hard, unfortunately.  I did not brake quickly enough and I plowed into the landing area at nearly 20 mph.  After a couple of rolls, I came to my feet, but my ankles were definitely hurting.  There’s a bigger picture to all this–one that I will discuss in my next post.  For now, I want to focus on the immediate aftermath.

Skydive Perris has one of the best training facilities in the world.  I actually jumped from the same plane as members of the Canadian military; and members of the Qatar military were training there as well.  Right after I “crash landed” and laid still in the field for several seconds, a Qatar paratrooper walked over to see if I needed help.  He was kind enough to gather and fold my parachute for me (a tedious process).  He exuded patience and benevolence.  It is kind acts like this that serve to remind us that we are all members of the same family, after all.  Very inspiring.

This act of kindness/inspiration reminded me of my winter quarter at UCLA–when I took a public bureaucracy and management class with former Governor of Massachusetts Michael Dukakis.  His lectures and stories were inspiring, but his greatest impression was his connection with students and his eagerness to help.  One afternoon I saw him in the distance.  Our eyes met.  He actually walked over and asked me how my class project was going, which involved working with a manager in the public sector.  I was having trouble contacting my public manager; Dukakis then grabbed my arm, looked me in the eyes, and firmly (but gently) told me that when/if I become a public manager one day, always make sure to take care of the students.  His message was genuine and heartfelt.  My body shivered in the aftermath.

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