Life’s Lessons Learned From Parachuting

The Windmill Posted by Picasa

Before you get impressed, thinking I had the courage to jump out of a perfectly good airplane, let me explain…

I had to have been 8 or 9 years old and I had just finished watching a John Wayne movie where parachuting was a main aspect of the movie. Now, I was an imaginative child and I just had to find a way to emulate my hero, John Wayne. I lived on a farm and not far from the farm house was a very tall windmill. Now the one thing I knew was that, in order to parachute, one had to jump from some height. So I determined that the windmill was going to be my platform.

Now for the parachute… Well, in the movies they are big and white and wide, and what was on the farm that I could use for my chute? A sheet … that is, a double sheet. A single sheet would never do. A double sheet would work quite nicely. Now, how do you attach a sheet to your body? I concluded that heavy-duty strong string should do the trick.

I manufactured my parachute, complete with my heavy-duty string tied to each corner, and the string then attached to me. I climbed the windmill. I thought that the very top was a bit high to try an untested chute, so I climbed about half way up and jumped. This is where I began to learn some life lessons…

Life lesson number one: heavy-duty string tied to the corners of a sheet doesn’t work so well for a parachute!! The string came off my chute.

Life lesson number two: survey the area below the platform before jumping. It seems I jumped on the side of the windmill that had a fence. I landed on the fence, gashing a pretty good hole in my arm (a scar I carry to this day). After getting patched and stitched and consoled, and, as I recall, yelled at after my folks determined I was going to live, I redesigned my chute. I allowed as how since the string didn’t work tied to the chute I would use twine (much heavier) and put it through the sheet at the corners.

I climbed a bit higher for the second jump. Having learned life lesson number 2 from the first jump (“look before you leap”), I went to the other side of the windmill.

I jumped. I immediately began to learn some additional life lessons: twine didn’t work either, design didn’t work (as the sheet ripped), and the little shed at the bottom of the windmill was wider than it appeared. I didn’t hit the fence, but did manage to rip out all of my stitches when I hit the roof of the shed.

The big life lesson I learned: let John Wayne jump out of airplanes. I decided to play “soldier” on the ground.

After my parachuting accident it was several years before gravity and I had another encounter with heights…and, well, that’s another story…

© 2006 Robert Allen Hill

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34 Responses to Life’s Lessons Learned From Parachuting

  1. Tan Hobson says:

    Great Job!

  2. Stan Lukas says:


    Stan Lukas

  3. Anonymous says:

    Loved the comment about not caring for the color green :) Watch out sonny… I wore green :) Great blog!!

  4. Mikka says:

    Good job Robert!

  5. "Deed Not Words" says:


  6. Steve Messick says:

    nice story – well written.

  7. Disabled and Living says:

    Your blog looks very professional. I like it alot.

  8. Mike Carr says:

    Wonderful Shipmate!!

  9. Joe says:

    Good story!

  10. Ramblings of the Insane says:

    Way to go Robert.

  11. WEB TRAINING says:

    from Robert SM..this is very professional..looks good

  12. Anonymous says:

    Creative blog!

  13. G.T. Baker says:

    Looks great

  14. The Political Scientist says:

    Best one so far. My experience was using the roof of the house with nearly the same results.

  15. Anonymous says:

    super blog, share it with the world and be famous.

  16. jessbess1978 says:

    I can never hear this story enough! Your ability to tell a story absolutely amazes me. Wonderful Blog and thanks for making me smile…again.
    I love you,

  17. Brad Severtson says:

    It’s funnier with a sheep!

  18. Otis says:

    Great story! It reminds me of another acquaintance from those days, who, having just seen the movie, “Trapeze” (Gina Lollabrigida, Tony Curtis, Burt Lancaster), had to try some of those tricks up in the barn, using pitchfork handles and baling twine for the trapeze! I wonder how we survived growing up on a farm.

  19. Tony V says:

    Hi Robert,
    It looks good, but I am not the blogger expert. I also looked at your other website…WOW, I am impressed. I may need to hire you to read my dissertation next year! Take care
    Tony V

  20. jkdrobinski says:

    I don’t think I have actually heard that story before. I knew about it, I just can’t recall hearing it told to me. I enjoy reading anything you put together.You have an ability to make it feel as if I was standing at the bottom of the windmill watching you jump.

  21. Lisa Leslie says:


    You are the ultimate writer. I miss working with you.


  22. Jim says:

    This is such a great story. I really enjoyed reading it and I really found it to be so refreshing. Great job.

  23. djudge47 says:

    Great Story! Experience is a great teacher.

  24. Maurice Mahan says:

    Robert, thanks for sharing your story-its the kind of thing we lose sight of as grown ups.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Great tale. Now submit it somewhere and earn a little money. Might be a hidden author in you.


  26. Vanessa Darr says:

    I enjoyed your adventures with ‘flying’ off windmills.

  27. Anonymous says:


    Thanks for making me laugh – please write “the rest of the story”


  28. Thurstylamb says:

    I liked it! Got to get me one of these!

  29. comebackkid says:

    You outdone yourself Robert !!! RogerD A911

  30. SGT. AIRBORNE says:

    Nice Blog. Hope all your classes ahead go well. Soon you will be working for the Man…. come see it thank you mark agent 1 a911

  31. the dawg says:

    ver good work

  32. Stephen says:

    Blogs are perfect for getting stories like this in some form of print. Good stuff.

  33. Anonymous says:

    nice novel

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