28,500 ft – HALO Skydive Adventure…

Adventure / Fun / Philanthropy

Last weekend, I embarked on one of my craziest adventures yet. A HALO skydive (High-Altitude Low-Opening). It’s on my BIG Life List and that’s another big checkmark. Plus, we were able to (with your help) raise over $32,000.00 for the Branson School of Entrepreneurship in South Africa. (Side note: I believe you can still donate if you have not yet.)

raising 30k+ for falling 30k feet

I’m still waiting on the video but as soon as that’s ready – I’ll post it up here. I figured, I’d give you the recap and a few pics in the meantime.

My buddy and co-author for “Moonlighting on the Internet”, Rob Olic, and Maverick Business Adventures™ founding member, Mike Filsaime, were the only guys brave enough (or stupid enough) to come with me down to Mississippi. I’m now the 40th civilian to have done a tandem HALO skydive (Filsaime is #41 and Rob is #42).

Just a quick background on HALO skydives – they were designed during the 60’s as a military maneuver to insert troops behind enemy lines undetected. That’s because the paratroopers jump from 30,000 feet (the cruising altitude of a commercial jet) so on radar everything looks normal. What’s more, the temperature up at 30,000 feet is about 25 degrees below zero (so damn frickin cold!) and you have to wear a full oxygen mask for two reasons.

1) Because at that altitude you’ll remain conscious about 30 seconds without oxygen
2) You need to pre-breathe pure oxygen for about 40 minutes to purge all the nitrogen out of your system to avoid getting the ‘bends’.

Good stuff, right?

Needless to say the week leading up to my jump, Missy, was freaking out a bit. Rationally, skydiving isn’t really riskier than the other stuff I’ve done – but emotionally it gets a lot of people worked up. After checking on our life insurance and talking to the jumpmaster I got a green light. ;)

So the 3 of us arrived on Friday night in New Orleans to hang out with a few friends, eat some good food and take in some local music. Our local guides, Chris Daigle and Chad Mac, did not disappoint. Dinner was awesome and I had frog legs and pork belly. And for dessert a little green tomato pie. I know it sounds a bit freaky – but it was awesome. Afterwards we headed to the House of Blues to check out the Radiators. That just wasn’t our scene. The band didn’t seem to have much energy that night. So we went to plan B and checked out a local group called “Soul Rebel”.

This was like a 180-shift – the place was rockin’. What a live performance! You can check out some of their music here – I believe the genre is something called “Brass Funk” – but it’s really eclectic. They’ve got a bunch of brass instruments and then combined with jazz, reggae, hip-hop, etc.

We didn’t have a late night (unfortunately) because we were all trying not to have more than a few drinks for our big jump on Sunday. So we crashed out early (for New Orleans standards anyway) at 2 AM. The next morning we packed up and headed East for Lumberton, MS. (I believe the population is like 400 people – so insert your own joke here.)

That’s where we met up with the team responsible for keeping us alive. Most of them were ex-military and the whole deal certainly had an air of a military operation to me. As we were hanging out on the ‘compound’, I hear a man walk up and start asking, “Mike Filsaime?….Yanik Silver? I thought that was you guys!”

Pretty funny. Michael Worthington lives there and his daughter runs the snack bar at the skydive center. He’s a customer of both of us – makes you realize how wide the Internet Marketing really is now. Michael and his wife, Pauline, were great and took good care of us.

A little side note along the same lines – last May in Vegas for the Zero-G Maverick adventure, we got picked up by our limo driver and his jaw just about dropped when Brad Fallon, Mike Filsaime and I walked out of the hotel. He told us he had a StomperNet CD in his limo right now and was a huge fan and customer of each of us. In fact, he said he had driven people Steven Spielberg, David Geffen, etc and was most excited to have us in his car.  ;)

Onward…

We spent the rest of day getting fitted for our equipment consisting of a flight suit, oxygen mask, helmet, goggles, gloves, oxygen bail out canister and communication system. Pretty hard core stuff. Then we got trained on what to expect while up there, hand signals, how to switch from the onboard O2 regulator to our portable bail out canisters, how to jump out of the plane, etc. Phew!

We finished up around 5pm and decided to check out the latest Batman flick “Dark Knight”. Wow! I think it’ll land in my top-10 for movies for sure. I really loved it and without being too morbid, Heath Ledger’s performance, as the Joker, just stole the show. I heard a lot of reviews of the movie and this lived up to the hype and then some. We all hit the sack early because we had to be up by 5:45 AM to head to the airport.

I had no trouble sleeping and I guess Mike didn’t either because we had to bang on Filsaime’s door to wake him up! After a quick muffin – we drove out to the airfield with just a tiny bit of trepidation building in all of us. For me, the day before when I was being fitted for my Oxygen mask – I felt just a slight hint of claustrophobia. About 15 years ago when I went scuba diving for the first time, I felt that same way and slightly panicked. I was concerned I couldn’t just bounce up to the top of the surface without doing some damage to myself – but I put that fear aside and started getting geared up.

At 7:30 AM, the local NBC reporter came to do an interview with Mike and I about the jump and the ‘fall-a-thon’ to support the Branson School of Entrepreneurship.

We were sitting pretty tight, shoulder-to-shoulder. I couldn’t see Rob but I could see Filsaime who was a bit across from me (he’s the first guy on the left in the pic below) . The only person you can talk to is your tandem instructor because you are hooked into your comm unit with them.

suited up in the plane

With everyone else, you can only make hand signals and gestures. Mine were off the one-fingered variety at Mike and they taught us in training you are supposed to respond in kind to make sure you brain is working and you aren’t suffering from hypoxia.

I could watch my tandem partner, Ben’s altimeter rising and at about 7,000 feet I started to feel like I couldn’t take another 30 minutes to get to altitude. But I relaxed and just focused on my breathing – which isn’t that reassuring because you sound like Darth Vader – and that’s the only thing you hear in your head.

I kept watching the altimeter….

10,500….14,750….21,800….28,500…then the action started!

We had to switch off from the bigger Oxygen compressor inside the plane and move onto our portable bail out canisters. And then 30 second later – Ben and I started moving towards the door. Mind you, I had a view of the door – the entire way up so I could see just how far up 28,500 feet is (Unfortunately the FAA is not letting them jump above 29,000 ft anymore).

I faced the door and waited for Ben to hook me into the tandem harness – while praying that these 4 little clips would hold us together. But I didn’t have too much time to consider that because the door opened and we rocked back and forth twice and hurled ourselves out!

Rob Olic HALO skydive - leaving the plane

Mike later told me that’s when he started freaking out a little because it was like a James Bond movie. One second I was in the plane with him and the next second I was a half mile away very much out of the plane!

That first feeling is unreal because your body and mind are trying to come to grips with what just happened. But then I settled into a calm freefall. (I guess calm is relative since I believe we were traveling at 200mph – but it felt calm anyway.) Here I am in freefall:

yanik silver HALO skydive

On the way down you are supposed to equalize the pressure in your ears – but I couldn’t find the right spot on my nose piece to hold my nose shut so my ears killed. They got better as we kept falling. It was really interesting to start off in a freezing cold section of the atmosphere above the clouds and then we literally fell through a line that took us from cold to very warm. Here’s a view of us from above where you can see the ground:

yanik silver HALO skydive - view from above

Overall, we had 2 minutes and 15 seconds of freefall (more than double the normal skydive) but it felt like 30 seconds to me. I couldn’t believe it when I felt the upward jolt from the parachute opening up. We fell from 28,500 ft and opened up at 5,000 ft. I could relax and take in the scenery as we came down for a landing at the dropzone.

After the 3 of us landed we had a quick exit interview with NBC. (You can see my hair looks all screwy.) ;) Of course, after high-fiving Mike and Rob – I quickly gave Missy a phone call to tell her I was alive and well!

After hanging out for a bit – we headed back to New Orleans for a little Cajun celebration and the beer definitely tasted a little better than ever going down!

17 Comments

  1. July 26, 2008, 5:49 pm

    WOW!

    That is just killer and it’s so cool that you got freefall photos. Did anyone take video?

    I can totally believe that you sounded like Darth Vader because you guys certainly look like you’re in space with those full-face masks on!

    :D

    I just did my 3rd tandem dive and not only had a external video shot, but my jump partner/instructor let me pull out my digital camera after the canopy opened, so I have footage from 3300 feet right through to landing.

    You can see the video here:

    http://www.paulkeetch.com/blog/skydiving-videos-1st-and-3rd-person-perspectives/

    Jumping for me is something that is usually a once-every-five-years kind of deal – when the opportunity comes up.

    I’ve also got footage from a soaring flight in 2006 in the mountains of British Columbia – my pilot liked to stall & spin… I liked my pilot! :)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pwM9CCnkNCo

    Can’t wait to join you on a Maverick Adventure!

    – Paul

    **
    Paul, careful I heard freefall gets addictive ;) – Y.S.

  2. July 26, 2008, 7:26 pm

    ur 2 cool dude:) nothing like a good ground rush to start the mornin’, and some pure oxygen therapy, had to make the body feel good!

    You may know me or not know me, Mike Filsaime does, my name is Nico Pisani. Been trying to reach you through the grapevine for awhile about doing lifestyle adventure events in Costa Rica. Anyway, I have a small FAM event at the end of August you can check it out at the link above. We will be doing some High Speed Canopy (Zip-Lines), Waterfall Rappels, White Water Rafting Adventures. The Mastermind sessions will be in Volcanic Thermal Hot Springs:) Anyway, maybe your free August 29, or if you would be interested in creating something in 2009.. my email is attached and my Twitter is http://www.twitter.com/NicoPisani

    Look forward to meeting you at some point! Peace brother y Pura Vida! Nico

  3. July 27, 2008, 4:18 am

    Wow looks great fun Yanik! Something I definitely want to add to my list of extreme things to do ;-)

  4. July 27, 2008, 12:05 pm

    Sweet! You just made Branson proud! :-)

  5. Carlos Samaniego
    July 28, 2008, 10:05 pm

    Yanik, what’s up brother!!

    WOW!! Unbelievable. I didn’t think you had it in you? ;-) I didn’t even realize you can do this unless you where in the military.

    I almost volunteered to do this when I was in Army. Then I chickened out!!

    I thought it was lost opportunity. Now I know it’s possible?

    Maybe for my 40th birthday!!

    Your friend,
    Carlos

  6. August 1, 2008, 10:29 am

    Wow! I must admit although I’m an adventuring girl I’m a sissy when it comes to sky diving.

    I always think to myself why should I jump out the plane when I can land in the plane?

    Great that you did that for Richard Branson’s school. I was involved in the Richard Branson Virgin Money launch in South Africa. He is also an adventuring soul and had no problem sliding down a very high zip slide which we erected in Johannesburg for him.

    Are you planning on sky diving regularly?

  7. August 3, 2008, 4:48 am

    Hi Yanik

    This is Vish here. I enjoyed the article and the video. You have a great spirit.

    take care
    Vish

  8. August 3, 2008, 12:51 pm

    Very cool Yanik, and great pictures! You will not catch me jumping out of a plane though.

  9. August 20, 2008, 4:22 pm

    Envy, envy, green with envy – that’s me. Makes me wonder if anyone got a different kind of green – the p**e kind? Of course the green that helped most was the funds raised. Congratulations.

    I’m envious because it’s been a long time I had any such fun. You and Mike must be over the moon – or pretty close to it literally. Well, one day, when I can get myself off my wheelc***r I most certainly will.

    In the meantime, I can just reminisce what a lifestyle truly can be. I’ll just keep up with my own journey – for now.

  10. August 22, 2008, 11:14 pm

    Yanik, you’re the best. I still remember ordering InstantSalesLetters back in 99 or 2000. It’s amazing how far you’ve come since then. Thanks for all of your training over the years.

    David Farr

  11. August 23, 2008, 2:34 pm

    Hey Yanik,

    Thank you for the awesome photos and sharing your experience with us!

    This is totally insane …. I had no idea skydiving from nearly 30,000 feet was even an option.

    You have are a great example of success and your 28,500 skydive has stretched my vision of what’s possible when we set our mind to it.

    Wish you the best!

    Robert Avila

  12. September 6, 2008, 4:39 pm

    Hello Mr. Silver,

    I think personally that this is the
    real Dare Devils stunt performance.

    Sky High Rocks..

    –Arya

  13. vijai
    September 26, 2008, 4:06 am

    wonderful images.videos also fantastic.i like your article.

    ———-
    vijai

    sreevysh

  14. October 27, 2008, 4:55 pm

    Man.. i wanna go sky diving!

  15. March 27, 2011, 9:54 pm

    [...] including one for Virgin Unite. Me and my buddies, Mike Filsaime and Rob Olic, joined up to do a “Fall-a-Thon” where our goal was to raise $1 per every foot we fell out of the sky. (Oh…did I mention it [...]

  16. September 6, 2011, 5:26 pm

    [...] including one for Virgin Unite. Me and my buddies, Mike Filsaime and Rob Olic, joined up to do a “Fall-a-Thon” where our goal was to raise $1 per every foot we fell out of the sky. (Oh…did I mention it [...]

Leave a Reply

Current day month ye@r *

We've moved! You can check out the latest business related blog at MaverickMBA.com and Yanik's more personal musings at www.YanikSilver.com.
See you over there!