A veteran skydiver of 25 years, Scott Cave says it’s always the loners with the most intriguing reasons for jumping out of an airplane at 10,000 feet.
“Who goes skydiving by themselves for the first time?” Cave said. “There’s always an interesting reason – a personal challenge, an irresistible urge, winning a bet.”
On April 4, Cave and his team were taking up clients for tandem jumps at Skydive Vancouver, located in Abbotsford’s Matsqui Flats.
He said he was matched with a “tall, good-looking kid” in his mid-to-late 20s who was alone, and went by the name Lucky.
“ ‘You here by yourself?’ I asked. ‘Yeah,’ he replied soberly. ‘That’s cool. How come?’ ‘My fiancée and I were going to do it together but she died. I’m doing this for her. To finish it off,’ ” Cave said.
Experiencing heartfelt moments are part of the job, and a pretty common experience, Cave said.
Even though his relationships with clients often only last 15 minutes, from when they leave the ground to when they set back down, he said the experiences can be “really profound.”
After the parachute had released and the two floated back down to Earth, Lucky explained that his fiancée, Jennifer, had fought breast cancer for five years, Cave said.
“This is Jennifer’s jump. Well done, Lucky, you made it happen,” Cave said during the jump, relating back to his own suffering after his grandma passed away, an uncle died of cancer and his sister was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer all in a six-week period.
Cave said there wasn’t much more interaction with Lucky after that.
He said the stories you hear in drop zones can be very personal, and every season a couple stands out out. Last year, one of his favourite jumps was with a 12-year-old boy with cerebral palsy.
“Being able to share that experience with him – you and me are the same up here. It doesn’t matter that you have a hard time on the ground; we can both go do this.”
Cave said that the popularity of tandem jumps has made the skydiving experience much more accessible to people from all walks of life.
He said that it’s common to have people over 90 years old come try it for the first time.
“It all comes down to this fundamental experience. I’ve watched it change lots of people’s lives,” he said. “Like this guy to honour his fiancée, or they’re facing their fears or challenging themselves, or going through a major life transition.
“It’s incredible. You watch people’s minds explode.”
After Lucky and he had landed, Lucky asked if they could take a photo together “in a way that felt like it was more than the picture,” Cave said.
“I don’t know if I’ll ever see him again. I might,” he said. “But I know I’ll never forget this human experience, born of tragedy and made pure by the sky. A bit of healing above and below.
“How can I not love my job?”