Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Bitter Lessons

“I trust my equipment and my training.”  That quote was in the newspaper.  I believe him.  He’s still alive and, well, what else can he say.  

There was a near fatality Saturday morning at Bridge Day in West Virginia.  Point of fact, I don’t know if he’s still alive or not.

The story?  Hard to say exactly what happened.  About mid-morning a fellow in a 'squirrel suit' and chute jumped off the platform like so many before him.  A squirrel suit has cloth panels under the arms and between the legs like Rocky the Flying Squirrel, hence the name.  Me, I think they call them squirrel suits because you’re nuts to wear one.  The suit is supposed to give you more glide or slow your descent or something that gives you an advantage over other BASE jumpers.  People who wear them tend to open their BASE chutes late ‘cause it’s really a crowd pleaser. 
To jump off the New River Gorge bridge you need 100 skydives in your log book.  That’s a lot of training.

Your equipment has to be checked the day before, followed by a visual inspection on the platform.  I understand there are other routine inspections.  You can trust the equipment.

So what happened?  He had the training, had the right equipment, right?  He opened late, too late according to witnesses in the landing zone.  His chute never completely opened, its lines were still stretching.

We’ll never know what he was thinking but it should be clear, training and equipment aren’t enough.  You need good sense.

Take a lesson here.  Tactics is about applying skill with weapons, your training and good sense to solve a problem.  Surviving is the measure of your success at this.

Nobody is going to be impressed if you give up an advantage because of your knife or gun or last school attended.  Giving up an advantage because you have the certificate from the newest Super-School or own the hottest new gun tricked out with laser, light and echo-locating sonar is a mistake.

Just because he’s holding a $99 POS shooter and has the junkie shakes doesn’t make you invincible.  Give away your advantage and you could still end up on a slab in the morgue.

Well, Saint Peter, he was a kid with some Chinese junk knife and I figured my Cold Steel and I...

Remember, there are no style points in survival.

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