A recent news item about space diving, that is, skydivers going to extreme heights before jumping from an airplane, brought back memories of the two brief years I was married to a skydiver. Neither he nor his buddies jumped from those altitudes, which requires oxygen and special jumpsuits. Instead they concentrated on doing acrobatic stunts while free falling, making mid-air formations or trying to land on a target.
My ex had 600 jumps to his credit and I learned that he got that credit because the pilot of the plane had to sign off. Sort of like: “Yes I took him up in the plane but he jumped out of it.”
I especially remember watching skydivers take part in contests, where they got points for landing closest to the target. Those points turned into prizes at the end of the event. They practiced every weekend, and even weekdays as long as the light held.
The earliest targets were simply white strips of cloth in the form of an “X” but later they used a plastic disc barely four inches across. Some parachutists were so good they not only jumped from over a three thousand feet and landed on the disc, they drove it into the ground.
Some events were actually held at night and the jumpers wore flashlights fastened to their boots. They jumped into a circle of light formed by strategically parked cars with their headlights on. Always trying something new, they also jumped over water into a circle of rowboats. The hero does that in my novel FREE FALL, and is “rescued” by the heroine who thought he was drowning.
The activity called “base jumping,” is when a parachutist doesn’t jump from plane, Obviously, he needs a high place, such as a tall building, bridge or cliff to jump from in order to have time for his ‘chute to open and still enjoy the thrill of a few seconds of free flight. El Capitan in Yosemite National Park in California, attracted hundreds of skydivers, but the park made it illegal.
Base jumping is also more dangerous than skydiving, with a fatality rate twice as high. I didn’t know anyone who died while skydiving, but I heard many stories about some who did. The son of a well-known romance writer--whom I met at a writers conference in Los Angeles years ago--died while hang gliding, not skydiving, in spite of having won many trophies for the sport.
But we love alpha males, who sometimes lead dangerous or reckless lives, don’t we? They are our fictional heroes and make our job of writing romance novels such fun.
Do you, or did you, have such a storybook hero in your life? And did you ever write about him?
Barnes & Noble
Although Jennifer Gray’s job requires her to work with Colin Thomas on a
sports promotion, that doesn’t mean she has to like it. He’s a pilot,
skydiver, and owner of Skyway Aviation, and she’s afraid of heights! But
she must work with Colin for six weeks, and even though she feels a
spark of jealousy when Colin seems to have a love interest, she remains
convinced he’s not the man for her. Then a friend’s accident during a
skydiving exhibition causes a serious rift. Colin knows a good thing
when he sees it but—even with humor, sensitivity and plain old-fashioned
charm—can he help Jennifer overcome her fear of heights, and convince
her their relationship is just what she needs?