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ACRO E-mail Archive Thread: [Acro] Re: sad day, divers, pilots, and why

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ACRO E-mail Archive Thread: [Acro] Re: sad day, divers, pilots, and why


Thread: [Acro] Re: sad day, divers, pilots, and why

Message: [Acro] Re: sad day, divers, pilots, and why

Follow-Up To: ACRO Email list (for List Members only)

From: "Robert P. Lockard" <rob at>

Date: Wed, 13 Nov 2002 13:07:56 UTC


  Actually I don’t think it is that unusual in the technical diving community.  The gentleman (and I use the word loosely) who helped 
me when I first started flying was a fellow diver, Dave Sutton.  I don’t think Will sky dived, but he was big in the technical 
diving community designing software for decompression and new electronics for Closed Circuit Rebreathers.  Tom Mount, CEO of 
International Association of Nitrox and Technical Divers is a pilot.  And many more of my friends are either a pilot first or there 
were a diver and became a pilot.  I myself have been toying with the idea of learning to sky dive and I have wanted to do it for 
quite a few years.

I do believe it takes a different type of person to do these things. The other night I stated to write my universal answer to why.  
This was purely for my benefit, but I’ll go ahead and post it. 

Later, Dive / Fly / Ride Safe

Why?  I have buried too many friends over the years.  Some died in diving accidents, some died in plane crashes and not enough have 
died in the arms of a twenty years old girl.  Yesterday I received news of another friend who I will never be able to share a beer 
and a laugh with.  His death like so many of them came too soon.  Like me, he had to push his skill level further.

Why do we do this?  All to often the cost is a life.  What is the reward?  Is it the feeling of cheating death?  Or is it something 
Will said a long time ago?  “Silence the chattering monkeys.” ( tm ) Smitters.  There is something to be said for having something 
that requires focus.  I walk around thinking way too much.  I have a business to run, projects that need my attention and ideas on 
doing it better.  So often all this starts to wear me down and there is the need to escape to a place where focus is on situational 
awareness. Where I’m are doing something that requires all my thoughts and then there is a relaxing silence.

Do I get up in the morning and say "today I’m going to perform a death defying act?"  No, there is the positive re-enforcement 
every time I get ready for a dive or preflight my plane.  There is a switch that goes off in my head.  That is the switch that says 
if you fuck up, you are going to be dead, so do it right.  And no matter how hard we prepare there is always something sitting in 
the back seat waiting to come out and kill us.  Every one who participates in these hobbies knows it’s there.  The question is how 
are you going to deal with it when it happens.  Are you afraid of it?  If so, then I make you this guarantee, when it comes out, 
you are dead.  Do you respect it and understand it?  If so there is a very good chance you will survive.  So even though I enjoy 
these pursuits, I spend a great deal of time studying it and trying to figure out how will it kill me. 

I explain it as making love with a beautiful woman.  Only she is a black widow and has a knife.  Your job is to know where that 
knife is at all times and not get too wrapped up in making love.  The moment you do, she will sink that knife in your back.

This still does not answer where the pleasure of these pursuits come from.  I get a lot of pleasure from studying the "what ifs."  
Then going out and trying something for the first time.  If I’m smart, I take someone with me who knows what they are doing and 
have them show me a few times.  When I was young and dumb, I would go out and try it by myself.  I never got any pleasure from 
dodging the bullet, however I did get a lot of pleasure from expanding my skills.

Will bit off more then he could chew and paid the price.  Yet many times we take a quantum leap in our skills pushing them much 
further then ever before.  Are we getting a feeling of "now is the time to make that jump?"  What keeps us in check besides "good 
old fashion common horse sense?"  A long time ago I started making hard and fast rules.  Never do a dive where you don’t have at 
least 1/3 more gas then I need.  Never dive with faulty equipment.  Never fly IFR at night.  Never fly IFR when thunderstorms are 
around and never fly VFR at night over water.  Instead of listing all these rules and picking them apart, I think I’m seeing a 
pattern.  Each one of these almost bit a friend or me in the six o’clock.  We all chat with each other, the smart ones listen and 
don’t repeat the mistake. The others don’t listen and die.  Will was one of the smart ones, what did he not listen to?  Was it his 
ego that told him to get the Gazelle?  What was going through his mind when he took off at 11:00PM after a long day of work?  Why 
was he flying over the water?

Maybe it boils down to one simple statement, "Stupidity kills, respect keeps you alive."  So if I understand and respect what I do, 
then I can continue to expand my skills and stay alive.  If I ever start enjoying "dodging a bullet" then I should hang it up.  It 
sounds so simple.

---- Original message ----
>Date: Tue, 12 Nov 2002 22:44:37 -0800
>From: "Seppanen, Kari J" <kari.j.seppanen at>  
>Subject: [Acro] Re: It's a very sad day for me  
>To: "'Dr. Guenther Eichhorn'" <gei at>, Planedancer at
>Cc: acro at
>Hey, I resemble that remark, having been all three as well (2000+ jumps,
>1800+ hours, ??? dives). I agree with Guenther about it not being unusual.
>In fact, I would think that a higher percentage of the people participating
>in X will also be more likely to participate in Y than those who don't (the
>rest of the population). All three attract a breed different from the norm,
>although money and time may limit how involved you be in each at the same
>Kari J. Seppanen
>Flight Test Engineering Analysis 
>Aerodynamic Performance Group
>kari.j.seppanen at
>N909RC Beech E33C
>-----Original Message-----
>From: Dr. Guenther Eichhorn [mailto:gei at]
>Sent: Tuesday, November 12, 2002 10:20 PM
>To: Planedancer at
>Cc: acro at
>Subject: [Acro] Re: It's a very sad day for me
>Hi Melanie,
>Is this really that unusual?  I am a scuba diver, sky diver and
>pilot myself.  I would assume that there are others that do that
>too.  I love scuba diving, I just don't have the possibility to
>do it often enough, New England isn't really the place for scuba
>diving.  I had some great dives in Hawaii and Australia.  As far
>as sky diving is concerned, I did that some 20 years ago.  I
>haven't done it since, but it keeps niggling on my mind.  I may
>do it again one of these days, because it was quite exhilarating.
>Keep doing what you like, you don't get a second chance at life.
>------ Original Message ------
>In message <93.2613221e.2b03373c at>, Planedancer at writes:
>>In a message dated 11/12/2002 7:41:58 PM Central Standard Time, 
>>rob at writes:
>><< I got news yesterday of a good friend and dive buddy who died 
>> returning home. >>
>>Interesting - I've only known one other person who was both a diver (scuba)
>>and pilot.  However, besides these 2 endeavors, I was also a sky diver.
>>even fewer pilots who've ever ventured there! 
>>Anyway, sorry for the loss of the "perfect" buddy.
>>Rhome (Ft. Worth) TX
Robert P. Lockard
Independent Oracle Consulting
Database Design, Development and Admin.

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