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Like most young boys, I remember having dreams of parachuting out of an airplane. As time went by, I thought less about skydiving, especially with a bad knee.
Once I had my first knee surgery, I crossed skydiving off my list. Eventually, I had knee replacement surgery and I didn’t think it was even possible.
What a surprise when for my 69th birthday, my son took me skydiving. This was 2 years after my knee replacement, so I had ample time to recover from the surgery.
I didn’t know what we were going to do until I arrived at the airport.
No time for second thoughts and chickening out.
Apprehensions About Skydiving And Knee Replacement
- My biggest concern was the landing and what it might do to my knee replacement, not to mention possible broken bones.
- I was also concerned about how I could jump out of an airplane attached to my tandem instructor.
- And of course, the thought that everyone has when they are about to jump from an airplane – what might happen if the parachute failed to open?
How Was Skydiving With A Knee Replacement
As I mentioned above, I was taken by surprise. I reluctantly agreed as my son, who had never skydived before, assured me it would be fun as we pulled up to the airport.
When we arrived, the business was busy with several people waiting for their jump.
The receptionist greeted us with a handful of forms to complete while we watched a 20-minute safety and instructional video.
The video instruction was excellent although the narrator made it very clear that injury and death were a “remote” possibility.
The forms were 4 pages front and back. I felt like I was signing my life away and giving up any rights for litigation.
I had to inform them of my knee replacement on the form. They never acted concerned or asked any questions.
I was weighed (there was a 200 lb. weight limit) and after a review of our forms we were sent to the hangar to wait our turn.
At 69, I was by far the oldest person.
Three or four people boarded the plane, and I was encouraged to see how happy and excited they were when they returned. Our flight up would be the 13th of the day so I had plenty of time to observe the reactions of other skydivers.
When it was our turn we went to the harness station and were fitted with a harness. Our instructors arrived and went over the procedures one last time.
We walked out, boarded the plane, and took off.
Once we were in the air and nearing our altitude (13,000 feet) the instructor buckled me to his harness. I watched my son and another skydiver jump (technically scoot out of the plane) first, then my instructor and I scooted to the opening and he pushed us out.
The free fall was amazing. It was a beautiful day and you could see farmland, mountains on one side, and the ocean on the other side.
When the parachute was deployed we slowed down and had a better view of the scenery. The instructor allowed me to guide and turn the parachute for a few minutes. It was amazing!
The landing came up very quick. I was instructed earlier to keep my feet up at a 90-degree angle and let the instructor ‘s feet hit the ground.
It worked just fine. I took no impact, landed gently on my bottom and was up in an instant.
The entire experience lasted about 10 minutes from plane to ground.
Skydiving was an amazing experience and one that was not on my bucket list. I will never forget it, especially since it came after I had knee replacement surgery.
If you have had a knee replacement and are in good health, and not overweight, you can skydive. If you have doubts or questions, always check with your doctor or physical therapist to hear a professional opinion.
Fun fact: George Bush senior went skydiving with the Army’s Golden Knights in his nineties.
Our jump was at 13,000 feet (2 ½ miles up) and the air was thin. I had a queasy stomach on some of the turns but nothing too uncomfortable.
I was very concerned about the landing but it was as smooth as ice. I felt great afterward and had no soreness or pain the next day. It was a great surprise and a wonderful birthday present.