Well, it all started sometime around the year 19-seems-like-forever-ago, when I went to watch my bestfriend, Claire, jump from a perfectly good airplane. "Sounds like fun!" I said. I went out to the DZ (drop zone)and watched her go through the class, and jump. Awesome! Right there and then I decided that this was definitely something I had to try. But, being a starving college student and skydiving being an expensive hobby, I found myself in a predicament. What to do? How to do? As I spent the next few weeks hanging out at the drop zone, watching all the action (in air and on the ground...), I stumbled on a money-making opportunity: Skydivers would rather skydive than anything else, especially packing parachutes. They were willing to pay good money to almost anyone who would pack their chute. Ka-ching! One afternoon packing class was all it took - Within a few more weeks "Plain Jayne" was making money packing.
Yes, hated being called "plain" anything. But ya' see, at the time, the drop zone was populated with Ironworkers. These rough-and-tumble guys had nicknames for everyone: Red Baron, Captain Cut-away, the Reverend (note: not the altar boy type), White Boy, etc. I felt flattered (and a little nervous) that they gave me a nickname at all.
"Hey! Plain Jayne! Ya' done with my rig?"
"Hey, Plain Jayne! When ya' gonna jump with us?"
"Hey, Plain Jayne! Come on, ya' ever gonna jump, or what?"
After 2 1/2 long months of packing parachutes, eating only PBJ sandwiches (sometimes without the bread), and stealing T.P. from public bathrooms, I had saved enough money to jump. I made my reservation for the next Saturday class, and showed up at 7:00 AM
"Hey-hey, Plain Jayne! Hear ya'lls jumpin' today! Can I go on your load?"
"Hey, Plain Jayne! This here is the Red Baron! He's gonna be in class with you."
"Hey, Plain Jayne! Ya' scared?"
I just smiled at them, and breezed on by. Little did they know that I had been flying in my dreams all my life - this skydiving thing was gonna be a snap!
Class flew (pun intended) by and it was finally time to jump. I remember that Ray was my jumpmaster, and Red Baron was on the load, but I don't remember who the other jumper was. sorry, some memories aren't as clear as others. I do know that Ray was only supposed to snap one photo, but said my, "exit was so clean he snapped off the whole roll." Personally, I think he was just twitterpated with me....... :)
Jump was great - just like my dreams. Did a perfect landing, which at that time meant thudding non-gracefully on the ground and trying not to break body parts. Red Baron and I were jumping, screaming, hugging and hollering as everyone ran out to greet us.
"Plain Jayne! Plain Jayne! You looked awesome!"
"Plain Jayne! Plain--"
"Hold up!" interjected Red Baron. "She ain't 'Plain Jayne' no more. She's Airplane Jayne."
Twenty-plus years later, I'm still called Airplane Jayne. what can I say? sure beats "Plain Jayne" anyday.