"there but by the grace of God go I" PHOTOS
I'm going to keep this brief because i'm due home for dinner - i'll post an article on skydive.tv about it pretty soon. Here are a few photos I was able to grab on my way out of Kingman AZ.
Basically, I jumped in the helicopter for the ride, and also to see a test drop from the air before my scheduled jump to film. on the way to the drop zone the helicopter cameraman was filming the convoy of production vehicles also headed there for the test drop. the pilot took us down low for a cool shot. out of the corner of my eye i saw a glint of sun from a cable strung across the field. i said "look out look out look out!" and the pilot immediately dropped the chopper down attempting to fly under the wires. for a second i thought we might have cleared them. We didn't. The cable must have grabbed a rotor, broke and twisted into the rotor.
we shouldn't have been flying that low without having first scouted the area. i believe the pilot should have known that. he feels horrible about the incident. i must add though that when i saw the cable, his reaction was fast and correct. a natural reaction would have been to pull back or fly up. he nosed down and when we took the hit we were closer to the ground. had the middle of the chopper or bottom skids of the chopper taken the hit, the accident could have been far worse. more on that later.
i can't really describe the experience. it was really timeless and i remember so much about it. It was so loud and violent and sudden. the cable was ripping at the helicopter and all control was lost. i remember throwing my upper body toward the center of the helicopter and holding tight wondering how a bone crunching hit would feel, wondering if all would go black and end. we spun around, dirt sky dirt sky crunch into the desert. i think we rolled a bit before coming to a stop on the right side of the helicopter, dust everywhere, doors blown off, windows cracked, no pain. it felt like a dream where you fall to the ground from a mile up and walk away wiping away the dirt, it was just like that.
i was out of my seatbelt and out of the chopper within two or three seconds. the pilot said when he looked around all he saw were my feet. there was no fire so a second later i jumped back to the chopper to look in. the cameraman was climbing out and the pilot was unclipping his belts and also climbing out. few people survive such a wreck, we'd beat great odds.
we beat the odds because that's how the world happened to be turning that day. at the moment we hit the wire, we were a non-factor, nothing more than along for the ride to whatever fate had in store.
There's so much more to this story and I promise to write more as time permits. For now i am so grateful.
all the best!