I Test My Beliefs

Tom - Tallahassee, Florida
Entered on February 12, 2009
Age Group: 30 - 50
  • Listen to This I Believe on RadioPublic

  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

I believe in physics, training, and myself.

Being a person who

Skydives and BASE jumps on a regular basis this is crucial.

Sure, I believe in other things also, like my family, friends, and the

certainty of taxes and death BUT ever since June of 2002 I have

found I believe in physics, training, and myself more than ever.

After finishing graduate school and securing a good job as an

economic consultant I called my father and asked, “What do you

want for father’s day, the sky is the limit”. After a brief pause he

said, “Well if that is the case then I want to go skydiving”.

A few weeks later my father, grandfather, cousin, and I all jumped

out of the same airplane, each of us tandem with our own instructor.

While all four of us loved the experience, my dad and I were hooked!!

I went on to become a Master Parachutist, the fourth and highest

sport skydiving license offered by the United States Parachute


I learned how to shoot video and photographs while freefalling in

the sky between 100 and 200 MPH and while flying a parachute.

I became a coach, which is someone who helps another skydiver

learn how to better fly their body and fly their parachute.

Eventually I became an instructor so I can teach people how to

skydive and take passengers tandem with me for their first jump.

Every time I exit an airplane or jump off of a bridge I am testing my

beliefs, but during a malfunction, well that is really where my faith in

physics, training, and myself is crucial.

Over the years I have a few close calls and even had to use my

reserve parachute twice. On both occasions I needed to cutaway,

or jettison my main parachute, re-enter freefall, and then deploy my

emergency back-up parachute.

Both of those times I had a passenger with me and both times I was

able to bring us safely to the ground.

Now after 7 years I have almost 2400 skydives, 650 tandems, 50

BASE jumps, and have gotten the opportunity to parachute in many

beautiful places including Japan, Spain, Mexico, and 12 states.

I have also enjoyed some very cool and unique experiences, such

as taking a few of my past college students for jumps, kissing my

wonderful wife one mile in the sky after opening our parachute, and

maybe best of all, teaching the guy who taught me how to play

baseball, soccer, ride dirtbikes, and drive how to do some new

moves in freefall — that guy is my dad.

I enjoy challenges, over coming fear makes my spirit grow,

and since I believe in physics, training, and myself well

parachuting is one of the ways that I test my beliefs.