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
Film from the final stage of the plunge was destroyed on impact.
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Reference: Associated Press, The Washington Post, UPI