Skydiver Dan Mathie died Saturday, September 19 2009 while making a tandem jump with first time jumper Sierra Thomas. Dan was 30 years old.
Dan Mathie at the CPC - August 16, 2009
It was August 16, 2009. It was Dan's birthday. My family and I arrived at the Cleveland Parachute Center with me quite anxious to make another jump. Dan was there, making his jumps with those lucky enough to be able to jump with him. Dan's mother was there. Skydiving legend Bob Sinclair was there. It was a beautiful, perfect day - fitting for a 30th birthday. After a short training class led by Dan, I was ready. He got me my gear, and we suited up. Then waited. We got held up a bit, which despite my being so hot in my gear - I felt lucky. We all stood talking for a long time. Bob, Dan, and his mother. It all felt so comfortable. They were all so easy going, great people to have a conversation with. We stood chatting some more outside of the plane as the plane received all the fuel it needed. Then, it was finally time to go. I told him "You have one hell of a job Dan!" He smiled and stated that he couldn't really call this a job. He also had another job as a bricklayer. The pilot, Dan and I, and a CPC employee who was just along for the plane ride all piled into the plane and we were finally off.
It's hard to have a conversation on a plane that is so loud, but we exchanged a few words up there. At one point he saw me smiling, big goofy grin as I looked out of the window and grabbed my foot, shook it and smiled. I can't believe I wasn't nervous! No worries! This was the first time jumping that I did not feel nervous. Not one bit. I knew that jumping with him, I would be OK. It felt totally safe, totally comfortable, and just totally natural. Somehow he just made everything seem OK. Strange to say when you're jumping out of an airplane, but that was just how he was.
After about 15-20 minutes it was time to jump! We got ready, and away we went! Falling
through the air I was still feeling totally at peace
and it was completely amazing thanks to Dan. I couldn't believe it. There was no other skydive quite like this one. Falling through the sky with oddly, no fear - but that is how Dan made it. The chute opened, and there we hung. We talked (again, not easy) for a bit and he pointed some things out to me. I was bummed it was almost over. For once I had an incredible feeling that I just wanted to do this all of the time. This was it. I HAD to! Enough of this once a year B.S.!
We landed and got situated, got the gear off that we needed to. Gave each other a hug and waved to the family. We completed the video and headed back up to the CPC office after taking a few pics with the family to take the rest of the gear off. I kept on telling him how this jump was so different, so amazing. We hung out for a little while more afterwards, again talking with his mom and Bob - laughing at Bob's stories and just smiling. I could have stayed there forever, but with three little hungry kiddos, it was unfortunately time to leave. We said our goodbyes, one last hug - and then my family and I left. Left with me saying I need to find out how I can do this all the time. "Ya gotta think like a skydiver!" Bob said. "Sell your car! Sell your house! Who needs it!" While that wouldn't work, I did have to figure it all out and I pledged I would only jump with Dan from now on. I needed to find out how I could get some extra cash to do an AFF course with him.
I really couldn't understand my lack of fear then. I do now. After reading people's accounts on their jumps with Dan, I get it now. It was all him. He just put people at ease, and I'm sure he created alot of skydiving addicts because of it! Even my husband, who had said NO WAY was he ever going to jump out of a plane, left that day saying he was going to jump.
The days passed, and I received the video of our jump together a little under 2 weeks ago. I am saddened by Dan's death, and just can't believe that he is gone, but I still have to smile when I watch the video and remember what a wonderful time it was and how lucky I was to be able to jump with such an amazing person. Dan has inspired and touched many lives, has given people a greater appreciation for life and will be missed by many.
Rest in peace
August 16 1979 - September 19 2009