Down Time

Try something new this summer — like skydiving

"Most people at work think I'm crazy," says Robyn Greenfield, who trains for her AFF instructor's license on the weekends and works weekdays in the St. Louis Public Schools district.

Greenfield says the problem is that people don't understand that skydiving is actually quite safe. Yes, one can be seriously injured or killed if things go wrong — as potential jumpers are warned in waivers they must sign. Of the more than 2.1 million jumps logged by the United States Parachute Association in 2005, 27 skydivers died and 962 were injured. Quantum Leap, which opened in 1993, and Archway, under the current ownership since 1999, have reported no serious injuries or fatalities.

"The equipment is safe," says Scott Cowan. "But you have to know how to use it."

Dude, Tom Petty was right about this.
Rob Walsh
Dude, Tom Petty was right about this.


Archway Skydiving Cente
Open 8:30 a.m. until dark Saturday and Sunday, open by appointment Monday-Friday. Call 800- SKYDIVE or visit

Quantum Leap Skydiving Center Open 10 a.m. until dark Monday and Friday, 8 a.m. until dark Saturday and Sunday, open by appointment Tuesday-Thursday. Call 800-STL- JUMP or visit

The parachute, of course, is of paramount importance. Skydivers jump with two chutes, a main and a reserve. Individual skydivers are in charge of packing their own main parachutes. Reserve parachutes, used if the main chute malfunctions or fails to deploy, are packed and inspected every 120 days by professionally licensed riggers.

Since the 1980s, automatic-activation devices have also become standard safety devices — just in case a jumper is still in free fall at a low altitude. Says Jason Papke: "Anyone who thinks their life is worth $1,200 uses one."

Despite the developments in skydiving safety, it's still completely natural to feel just a little bit frightened. Worry not. If, after arriving at a drop zone, you still find yourself doubting your ability to actually go through with it, you can count on meeting other skydivers full of advice and soothing encouragement — some of whom will probably say, "Life's too short. Go for it!"

"Maybe you've gotten in a rut or are afraid to try new things," says Greenfield. "But if you start skydiving, it's like you can do anything. It's really kind of a life-changing experience."

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