The 1,000 Jump Nirvana

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Beware of false prophets promising skygod status

Image: Sian Stokes by Milko

The thousand jump milestone is the most significant jump number in a skydiver’s career.

It can bring many Cs… Confidence, Capability, Calmness, Commitment …

…and, Complacency!

I can still remember my 1,000th jump, very clearly. It was a 10-way in Zephyrhills, with the friends I was on holiday with. I was euphoric. It wasn’t that the jump was perfect, it was that I felt like I had somehow achieved some kind of new, semi-skygoddess status. Somehow, converting jump number 999 to jump number 1,000 was so much more than going from jump 987 to 988. Virtually no difference in the grand scheme of things.

But, I felt this was enormous. Like Christmas and birthdays that cause one to look back, I reflected on what I had learned in this time.  It was more than the fact I’d stayed alive and virtually uninjured all these skydives – although I did feel proud about that. It was that I couldn’t believe how much I knew, the skills I’d gained, how automatic flying was now, and how comfortable I felt in freefall. I really felt I had learned more than I could possibly imagine.

Make no mistake ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, gender-fluids and ghosts…. This is a trap. Of our own making. A gorgeous seductive trap. The problem with this mythical milestone (why not 1013 jumps?!), it is easy to do as I did, be amazed at how much you know and how far you have come. It wasn’t just the magic number. It was that actually I thought about how proficient I had become and.. yes, I thought I knew most of it even though I knew I didn’t know it all. The problem was, I had no idea how much I didn’t know.

It wasn’t until another thousand jumps that I realised the gaps in my knowledge and awareness.  Like getting married at 25 to a totally incompatible partner, thinking ‘I’m so glad I waited so long [my friends were getting hitched at 20], I know my own mind’… to divorced four years later wondering ‘WTF was I thinking when I waltzed up the aisle’?!! 

Nirvana Awaits!
Image: Sian Stokes over Skydive Algarve by Milko

When you start, a hundred jumps seems so far away, like starting on a round-the-world journey. But it comes up before you know it. When you arrive at that ‘Woo-hoo Moment’ of a hundred jumps it is a cause for true celebration. It IS a huge accomplishment. More than 90 per cent of people who do one skydive never make it to a hundred. But, you are so aware at this point, looking at those around you, how little you actually know. You are happy to be where you are now, humble, and hungry for information. 

This is the best state to be in at a thousand jumps – happy, humble and hungry. Most every multiple world champion I ever met was like that. The problem is, at this stage it’s easy to pat yourself on the back and not realise you’re in a potential danger zone. Are you awesome? Yes! Have you done some amazing skydives – records, competitions, events? Yes! Are you a very competent and skilled canopy pilot? Yes!

Are you infallible? Bullet proof?  You know the true answer – but it’s easy to feel invincible, wearing your magic cloak of a thousand jumps.

“As a kid I expected that when I reached 100 jumps I would be a sky god and at 1000 jumps I assumed that a Nirvana-like state awaited me.”

Pete Allum

Be wary of the trap of overconfidence. Yes, get that wingsuit, new canopy, learn to fly camera, extend your repertoire. Enjoy your awesomeness, feel proud… but don’t let that stop you keeping your eyes on the ball. Please make it to the 2,000 jump milestone unscathed.

Sian Stokes over Skydive Hibaldstow by Joe Mann

Meet: Lesley Gale

Lesley has been in love with skydiving for 35 years. She is a multiple world and national record holder and a coach on 20 successful record events worldwide. She has over 100 competition medals spanning more than 25 years and has been on the British 8-way National team at World events. She started Skydive Mag to spread knowledge, information and passion about our amazing sport.
Lesley is delighted to be sponsored by Performance Designs, Sun Path, Cypres, Cookie, Symbiosis suits and Larsen & Brusgaard

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