Since the dawn of man, precautionary measures have played an integral role in extending years and protecting one’s family. We put locks on our doors, buy high-priced security systems and insist on cars with airbags and electronic stability control.
It all started with the caveman and his favorite club. Grok didn’t care about beating up other cavemen so much as protecting what was his. It’s man’s instinctive nature to think ahead and “always be prepared”, as we’re taught from the beginning in Boy Scouts.
Being prepared for any given situation is a life skill. You might find yourself having to defend against a tiger attack while vacationing in Thailand or you might simply need a pack of matches to help start a fire while camping down at the lake.
The fact is that it’s simply impossible to be prepared for everything life throws at us but that’s no reason to not keep trying. The more you know, right?
Let’s consider a scenario where you’re taking a 6-seat Cessna up into the big blue sky for your first parachute jump. It’s been a lifelong dream and today is the day that you’re finally taking the plunge.
Unbeknownst to you, the pilot is a drug lord from Colombia and his first day on the job today is merely a tactic to steal a small airplane, with plans to maneuver into Bogota and score 5 kilos of raw cocaine from a popular drug cartel.
At about 5,000 feet, you get informed that you are going to need to exit the plane because this is a hijacking. You insist that you’re more than willing to exit without incident but this pilot is intent on making a name for himself. He insists that you jump without your polyester and nylon life-saving device.
While you can’t possibly be prepared for every nut-bag pilot with his own agenda, you can be prepared to fall a few thousand feet from the sky without a parachute.
Here’s how you want to survive a fall without a parachute.
Relieve your bowels. There’s no shame in soiling your pants at this point and you need to go ahead and get rid of all distractions. There’s a real solid chance that landing without a parachute isn’t going to work out for you but we need to give ourselves the best chance by ridding the situation of anything that impedes mental clarity.
Go parallel to the ground and extend your limbs. First instinct is to flail about in a vertical position and scream like a two-girl year old girl. That’s understandable but it’s not helping your chances of survival in any way. Remaining vertical will have you traveling at speeds of nearly 800mph!
The prone position is going to help reduce speed in a major way and prepare you for a killer landing (and we do apologize for the chosen terminology). Extending your limbs will slow you down still more, from an average speed of 200mph to 122mph (at terminal velocity). That’s a considerable difference and your preparedness is paying off!
Look for loose-flying debris. This might be a parachute bag your former pilot threw out before you, a couple birds you happen by or it might even be another free-falling victim. If something is available, grab it. You want to position yourself on top of the debris and create a bit of cushion for some extra bounce when you land.
If no debris is available, proceed to step 4.
Guide yourself. You’ve seen Johnny Utah figure it out on his first try and should therefore realize that you’ve got a lot of say in where you’re going to land.
Stretch those arms out and figure out how to fly. Don’t just float but look for soft terrain and head that way. Any water down below? That’s your first option. Steer clear of industrial looking settings and go for all natural. Your best bet may be a muddy field or marsh.
Landing is the trick to success. Remain parallel to the ground and try to come in like an airplane landing. Just before hitting the ground, tuck your chin in to your chest, extend your hands in front of you and roll forward. You’ll likely do a few tumbles so be ready and try to choose a path that’s free of obstacles for a greater success rate. You’ve likely done this before during a bike wreck as a child. This is the same thing but only about 120mph faster. You can do this!
In the end, you may fail but the most manly option is to have given it all you have and that’s all you can do. Life’s too short too worry about dying and if this is a life-ending landing, the last few minutes spent free-falling just might be the most you ever lived!