I remember those days like they were yesterday. It was the summer of 1982, and Dan B.C. [Brodsky-Chenfeld], Pat Stallard, Mark Badillo and I were launching seemingly effortless 4-way exits from a Cessna 180 at Greene County Sport Parachute Center in Xenia, Ohio. I can still see the hushed excitement on our faces as we transitioned on the hill and consistently turned 10 to 11 points from 9,500 feet.
Pat had a way of making everything seem so relaxed and controlled, and Mark and Dan were two of the nicest skydivers I had ever met. (Of course, what can I say about Dan that is not already the stuff of legends?) As for me, I was already obsessed with 4-way, and jumping with these guys only made my obsession more intense.
For whatever reason, 4-way spoke to me. I liked the discipline and teamwork required. I liked how we could engineer formations to make our moves more efficient, allowing us to turn more points. I especially liked the camaraderie that was naturally developing among this group of talented jumpers. We would have made a great team.
But I had already been jumping hard for 10 years and my priorities were suddenly changing. I was in the middle of graduate school and couldn’t really afford hundreds of team jumps. Plus, settling down and raising a family were taking shape in my mind. Maybe the fact that I was almost 10 years older than everybody else had something to do with it. So, in 1983, I quit jumping for 15 years. I told myself that if I couldn’t train with Dan, I wasn’t going to jump at all.
Fast forward to 1998, and I got the urge to get back in the air. I was still obsessed with 4-way, but now I had a wife and kids, and they remained my top priority—so training with a serious team was out of the question. I did manage to head up several fun teams over the years, but more important, I found that I really enjoyed introducing newer jumpers to 4-way. If I couldn’t train seriously with a team, this was the next best thing. I had found my new calling.
So for the past several years, I have been sharing my love of 4-way with both newer and experienced skydivers. It’s rewarding to see the excitement on their faces after we’ve launched a successful exit and turned several points, and even more rewarding when they come up to me and ask me to do more 4-way jumps with them. And I occasionally feel a lump of pride in my throat when I see jumpers go on to form their own teams and continue to spread the 4-way love. Of course, there’s one more reason I love organizing 4-way jumps—it helps me keep my own head in the game.
Ed Lightle | D-5966