I made this jump & self-portrait in commemoration
of the birth of my niece Amanda. The photo later appeared
in "Parachutist" magazine (July 1998).
Notice the broken cigar in my mouth. Yes, I
free-fell with that in my mouth. As you can see, it didn't fare
Skydivers and Helmets
Comedian Jerry Seinfeld once joked that skydivers may
as well wear party hats instead of helmets. His routine
pivoted on the rather silly (well, he is a comedian) assumption
that helmets were intended to somehow save your life in the event
your parachute(s) failed.
So why do many skydivers bother wearing helmets?
Well, they sure as heck won't save you if your parachutes fail.
However, what they will do is protect you in other, much more
common emergency situations associated with skydiving.
|For one, a good hard
helmet will increase your chances of remaining conscious after
a clumsy fellow skydiver torpedoes you in freefall, or accidentally kicks
you in the head as you and several other skydivers exit the
. Somewhere out there are skydivers who
will confess to having actually slipped and prematurely fallen
out of an aircraft on jump run. They will often boast about the
mark their heads left after colliding with a landing gear strut
or door jamb on the way out.
Another skydiver might also tell you about the time he
landed down-wind and went running across the field, heels practically
slapping the back of his head, before colliding with:
a.) another jumper (hopefully one wearing a helmet)
b.) the wind sock he should have been paying closer attention
to before landing downwind
c.) Jerry Seinfeld and his party hat
Occasionally, often due to shifting winds (or an airplane
emergency that caused jumpers to exit the plane away from the
drop zone), skydivers find themselves landing off of the drop
zone in comparatively hostile terrain. Pavement, sidewalks,
powerlines, cars, buildings, street lights, power poles, broom-wielding
grannys... smacking into any of these things while landing can
leave you with a headache no pain killer can cure.
Although many skydivers can tell amusing, upbeat stories
of unintended off-airport landings, I suspect most are not eager
to repeat the experience, and some are glad they were wearing
their hard helmets that day (or in some rare cases, that night).
So why am I not wearing a helmet in this photo? Because
I wanted to look cool for the photo. Which brings us to
the next topic; the skydiver ego...