When the three Benson siblings got together to plan their family reunion picnic, Adam,the oldest and a conservative banker in Atlanta, suggested that instead of the same old tug-of-war at the picnic, they do something more adventurous. He wanted to do a group skydive. Kaitlin, a pharmaceutical sales rep in Kennesaw and Michael, a high school teacher in Marietta, both thought he was kidding. He was not. Adam had already done his homework. He found out that Skydiving.com Atlanta had group discounts and any of their family members over the age of 18 could dive in a tandem, group jump. “We are conservative people” Kaitlin laughed. “We don’t do those kinds of things.” Well apparently they do.
The Benson family did their group jump last Saturday as part of their annual Family Reunion Picnic.
I met them at the Skydiving.com Atlanta dropzone to catch the send off and landing and to see how it went. Eleven of the family members jumped, ranging from ages 18 to 63. None had ever taken a jump before. They were not shocked when their dad, John from Marietta, didn’t want to jump but to everyone’s surprise mom, Evelyn, did. So mom, Uncle Rob and Aunt Ginny Shaw of Powder Springs, and 8 cousins all prepared to jump. Jason Hardy, one of the ground school instructors laughed at the nervous energy of the group as they prepared. “It always takes a little longer to get through the information with a group of family or friends talking and laughing in ground school, but I love working with groups” he said.
“They bust on each other the whole time so it’s a lot of fun.”
I watched as they loaded the plane, somewhat awkwardly with all the equipment. After the jump, cousin Sarah Shaw from Powder Springs said the ride to 11,000 feet in the small aircraft was “packed like sardines, but no one cared.” She went on to say “we were like penguins jumping in the water as we quickly fell out of the plane into the clear blue sky. From the dropzone on the ground, I watched the sky as they filed out of the plane. The group looked big and I think I was even a little nervous for them. When I saw the tiny parachutes deploy, I had to ask someone if that was what they use. One of the ground agents told me the little “drogue” parachute slows the 2 person fall a little to slow the trip down. They rest of the family, on the ground, was cheering and laughing.
John admitted he was a little nervous watching so many from his family in the sky.
The ground agent reminded us that the certified skydivers were in full control of each tandem. When the main parachutes deployed, John and a few others breathed a sigh of relief. They were beautiful!. There were actually 12 of them because they hired a professional videographer from right here. They told me they even have professional editors right here in the dropzone. To hear the group in the sky and the crowd on the ground, one couldn’t help but revel in the excitement. As the tandems began to hit the ground, the cheering was spectacular. “That was awesome.” Mark Shaw, from Powder Springs, screamed “I’ve never had an exhilarating thrill like that before. It was crazy!”
He went on to say “I’ve lived here my whole life and I’ve never seen Atlanta like that before.”
I saw Michael run over and give Adam a huge bear hug and heard him thank Adam for the thrill of a lifetime. I heard a 10 year old boy tell his dad he was “really cool.” How often do dads hear that from their kids? I stood a little longer, wallowing in the family excitement but then headed into the building. I was curious about the video. The editors were busy working on the final cuts already. I told them I was writing an human interest piece for the Living section of the paper and asked if I could take a look. Wow! The video was amazing. I have no doubt that when they upload that to social media, all of their friends will want to jump and even plan group events to jump. To be perfectly honest I got the fever and before I left Skydiving.com Atlanta I had all the information I needed to plan my own group event.