Paralyzed U.S. skydiver conquers Dubai's skies

Pushing the Impossible: The Paralyzed Skydiver

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Jarrett Martin was paralyzed from the waist down at the age of 18. Since then, he has shown that “some guy skydiving in a wheelchair” is possible. According to Martin, half of his body survived while the other half did not survive. He refused to be “reclusive” after the accident; he currently works for Skydive Dubai.

Martin, now 26 years old, can trace his skydiving roots back to his grandfather. “My family’s history is all skydiving. My grandfather was a skydiver, which lead to my father being a skydiver … of course naturally myself,” Martin said. “Skydiving runs in the family.”

Martin estimates that he has completed a total of 5,000 jumps.

“I’ve been skydiving for over ten years now. I did my first skydive with my father at the age of nine, and then I started on my solo career at the age of 15,” Martin said. “I’ve been disabled for eight years. I was in a weird parachuting accident when I was 18 years old, and it was a tragic accident, but I think in the end it really made me a stronger and maybe even a better person.”

Martin is originally from Seattle, Washington. In 2013, he has moved to the city of Dubai when Skydive Dubai invited him to join their team when they saw him compete for the United States in an accuracy skydiving event.

Describing his injury, Martin said he was doing a mix between paragliding and skydiving. “I was trying new things and things didn’t quite go to plan and my parachute collapsed. I fell a couple of hundred feet and broke my back and damaged a lot of my insides,” Martin said. He had completed 2,800 jumps when his accident occurred in Hawaii.

“When I was injured, what really saved me was the family-like attributes that skydiving has,” Martin said. “There was no time to be sad. There was no time to be depressed.”

Six months after Martin’s injury, he performed another BASE jump—becoming one of two disabled people in the world to perform such a maneuver.

Martin said that it is hard to express what it feels like to skydive – in words.”The views from the height we jump from, you can see everything,” Martin said. “It’s one of those things you just have to try it. It’s indescribable.”

In order to skydive, Martin has to make a few modifications in his skydiving equipment. “There’s a couple adaptations of equipment I’ve had to use for me to be able to skydive. One of them is my leg retention device,” Martin explained. “It keeps my legs separated yet keeps them from flapping wildly out of control.”

Most people ask him how he does his landings since most skydivers land on their feet. He describes his landing as “a glorified tuck and roll.”

“It’s as graceful of a landing as you can get,” he said.

Martin hopes his story can inspire others to achieve more than they thought was possible.

“It’s nice to know that there’s people that I’m helping, whether it be disabled people trying to get them to do whatever it is they think they can do,” Martin said. “Because if I can do skydiving, anybody can do anything, whether it be someone disabled or not, it inspires everyone to push themselves to do things they never thought were possible.”

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