This isn't flying. This is falling -- with style!
Buzz Lightyear, "Toy Story"

I've been skydiving since May 1997. I learned to jump at J.T. Willie Airport (aka The Farm) in Worthington, PA, and Cleveland Sport Parachute Center in Parkman, OH. My first jump was a static-line jump from a Cessna at 3200 feet. I had gone through a six-hour training session the week before, but I couldn't jump the day of the training because of the weather: 51-mph winds, rain, hail, lightning... The instructors had to shout to be heard over the noise of hailstones on the metal hangar roof! So I had a week to think about it and get nervous. But when the weather cleared up, I jumped... and once I'd tried it, I was hooked. Recently I've been working toward my static-line JM rating, so I can help other poor suckers, err, students get hooked on this too.

Usually I jump at the Parachute Center in Lodi, CA. Now'n'then I visit Bay Area Skydiving in Byron, and Skydive Monterey Bay.

Some unusual jumps:

Random Numbers:
  • USPA license D-21914
  • Jumps: 651 [1 Oct 2000]
  • Freefall time: 11 hours and counting...
  • Largest completed formation: 42-way
    (a gorgeous sunset load at Eloy)
  • Falcon award #4469, Double Falcon #2453
  • Eagle #2219, Double Eagle #1431
  • Four-stack #5158
  • KDFC #43 (Kathy Dause Fan Club)
  • Gear:
    black / hot-pink Javelin + Triathlon 135
    kelly green / black Javelin + Diablo 120

10 October 1999, at Lodi.
After the KDFC 6-way Scrambles competition, both teams, the organizers, judges, cameraman, etc. got together for an 18-way. [Photo by Fast Eddie]
Docking on my brother Dave, during his tandem jump at Lodi, March 1999.
[TM: Mike Spurgeon. Photo by Fast Eddie]
In the hangar at Byron
From the Farm, 1997 -- my first 30 jumps

Skydiving Info

[Skydive! Archive] [The Book of Canopy Control] [USPA SIM] []

Skydiving Quotes

I never ever thought I'd be putting a quote from Snuffy on my web page, but this one got to me:
Skydiving is Tribal, take care of each other. Even the death of a non-lic. papoose hurts the tribe. Brings to mind a Chinaman word thut the Marine's luv. "GUNG HO" = Work together


I learned how to juggle in 1989, and since then I've been learning various 3-ball (and recently, 3-club) tricks and patterns. I've juggled with someone when we were both on stilts, and with big groups (hey Liz: LADYBUG!).

I'm always looking to learn new juggling tricks. I learned to juggle clubs in April '97. The IJA 50th anniversary festival (August 1997) was very helpful. I only went for two days, but you can learn a lot in two days of non-stop juggling!

Stuff I can do:

Stuff I'm working on:

I own a diabolo and a unicycle, but can't do much with either one yet.

How To: [] [Juggling For The Complete Klutz]
Supplies, books, etc.: [Brian Dube Inc.] [Renegade Juggling] [Advice on buying clubs]
Miscellaneous: [Int'l Jugglers Assoc.] [IJA 50th Anniversary Festival]
Jugglers Against Gravity (Strange But True - Juggling Accidents)

Other things I do for fun


Although I haven't had time for student theatre in grad school (understatement!), I was very involved as an undergrad with the Johns Hopkins University Barnstormers. I was a director, producer, techie, set designer, stage manager, costumer, etc. I've been on stage occasionally but prefer not to. My interest in costumes has extended to Masquerades (Costumers' Guild competitions) and (briefly) the Society for Creative Anachronism. Some photographs of costumes I've designed.

Embroidery & Sewing

I do a lot of cross-stitch and other needlework, mostly from my own designs. I've even sold some of my work, as part of an enterprise called Digital Dragon Designs, but D3 has been on hold for a few years. Graduate school doesn't leave time to do enough needlework to make a business out of it!

When I finish the current cross-stitch project I might try making another quilt. The first one, a 25th anniversary gift for my parents, took almost five years, working on-and-off. Important safety tip: for your very first quilt, do something small. Don't try to fit a California king size bed (bigger than standard king size)!

I learned to crochet a few months back and have been working on small projects, like baby blankets for friends' kids.


Now that I've escaped the frozen wasteland of Pittsburgh winter and moved to California, hiking is eating up nearly all the weekend time that skydiving doesn't absorb.

Memorable trips:

January 1997: a week in Maui. Walking through a dim green bamboo forest, then breaking through into the sunlight and a magnificent view of a huge waterfall... skidding down a hillside of lava chunks in a volcano crater at 10,000 feet... picking my way across a crazily eroded landscape of sharp rocks to a cove with a hidden blowhole... camping by the edge of a cliff where fist-size crabs scamper around the rocks below and the waves crash furiously all night...

October 1997: a week in Banff. Okay, so most of it was spent at a conference, but only most of it. I saw a black bear (on the opposite side of a river), a wolf, many elk, magpies...

June 1998: up & down the East Peak of Mt. Tamalpais, via the Indian Fire Road and Eldridge Grade.

October 1999: a day hike up & down Mt. Tallac (near Lake Tahoe) turned into an all-night adventure, including a few hours huddled in a "nest" in the bushes, soaking wet, trying to find a comfortable way to sleep on the branches without getting speared. I don't recommend descending the north side of the mountain during warm weather!

Back to my home page

Ari Rapkin
Last modified: Mon Jul 20 17:40:11 PDT 1998