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Darwin Awards
1993 Darwin Awards
Email a Friend Named in honor of Charles Darwin, the father of evolution, the Darwin Awards commemorate those who improve our gene pool by removing themselves from it. Next Prev Random

 
 
Where's the Shoot? Where's the Chute?
Historic Darwin Award Nominee
Confirmed by Darwin

Reader Signora says, "Many years ago, my two uncles started roughhousing at our Christmas gathering. Uncle Frank picked up Uncle John by the heels, lost his grip, and dropped Uncle John on his head. It was all right because John was a state Supreme Court justice and was there for life. The other uncle is, I am sure, in your archive. The one about the skydiving photographer who forgot to put on a chute...?"

(North Carolina, 1987) Ivan, an experienced parachutist with 800 jumps under his belt, was videotaping a private lesson given by an instructor for a single trainee. He had attached the video camera to his helmet so that it would capture the entire day of instruction, and the supporting power supply and recorder were in a heavy satchel slung on his back.

The group went up in the plane, and the instructor led the enthusiastic beginner through preparations for the jump. Ivan carefully documented the lesson, which needed to be perfect for the sake of posterity,

When they reached the jump site, Ivan jumped from the back of the plane and filmed the student and instructor jumping from the front of the plane. A few heartbeats later, tape still running, Ivan realized that he had been so focused on filming the jump that he had forgotten to strap on his own parachute. An FAA spokesperson said that the video equipment strapped to his back may have been mistaken for a parachute.

In the footage salvaged from the camera and spliced together, the student and instructor are shown in freefall befire they pull their ripcords and recede rapidly from view. Then the cameraman's hands reach for his own ripcord. When Ivan realizes he has no ripcord, ergo no chute, his hands are seen to flail about wildly, then the camera pans down towards the approaching earth...

Film from the final stage of the plunge was destroyed on impact.

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