Living with ALS 


By Mike Rayl

I can't remember a time where I didn't want to skydive!!! From an early age as a toddler ... Probably when I first saw it done on TV !!! Like most kids what I wanted to be changed what seemed to be each passing day!!! Well I got my chance in 1975 while working at Mammoth Mt Ski Resort ...

My friend Bob who was a ski patrolman was a skydiving instructor in the off season In PERRIS Ca. by Lake Elsienor !!! Bob is a very interesting couragus guy having only vision in one eye, which limits ones depth perception both needed for snow skiing and skydiving !!! Bob was organizing a skydiving trip mainly made up of ski patrol men and asked me if I would like to join them!!! The package he offered was pretty good, skydiving school and two jumps for $110 !!! Having always wanted to skydive I jumped at the chance, pun intended... 

Jump school was intense unlike today where you jump in tandum back in those days it was old school you jumped on your own with a static line connected to the plane and hopefully it opened your parachute when you jumped out of the plane !!! You had to be trained in every possible negative outcome!!!

It was scary and exciting all at the same time when I thought about what was to come !!!
They say the landing is about the same as jumping off a van!!! Not too bad.
When we loaded the plane it was boy girl boy girl the order we would jump out, I was third!!! I can tell you I had butterflies and if there wasn't a petite girl ahead of me añd behind me I may of chickened out, but I said to myself, if they can do it I can too!!!

We each took our turn sitting down at the edge of the big open door of the plane and pushed ourselves out the door... My training kicked in, arch thousand, look thousand and my chute opened. !!! It was such a relief when my chute opened such a feeling that is better than sex !!! It was all of a sudden so quiet and peaceful... I turned to my left 360° then looked at the ground for my target... Just took it all in it was a beautiful spring day !!! It all happened so fast it was already time to focus on the target and landing... It was so easy to maneuver the parachute.. I landed 15 feet from my target the closest so far !!! It is the only sport I know of that has the winner buy a round of drinks for everyone !!! We were taught to tuck and roll on landing... One of the ski patrolman hit the target!!!

It was so funny they had one pink parachute and they always give that one to the most macho guy as a joke... The second day was even more amazing !!! We went up in a smaller eight passenger Cessna plane and instead of pushing ourselves out of the plane, which is rather difficult we climbed out on to the strut of the wing and when we were ready, gently let go falling gently like a leaf in the wind !!! It was so much more relaxing the second time around... I really enjoyed the whole experience this time!!! The mountains in the distance and lake Elsinore at dusk was so amazing, it was purfect !!! A couple days later I had a dream where i was skydiving it was so real that I never had the desire to ever skydive again it was so perfect an experience I had... I could never have a better experience,.. Anyway I didn't want to press my luck, I was done !!! Tell me who jumps out of a perfectly good airplane ??? Sometime later a friend of my brother Mark went to the same place and wasn't so lucky, his chute didn't open, they found him with his hand on the rip cord on the ground !!!