I am forty-four years old and didn't begin skydiving until July
1995. I was born with an orthopedic birth defect called hip displaysia.
It was a painful condition even as a child, but as I got older
it became crippling. I had wanted to try skydiving since a para-sailing
experience several years ago, but my degenerative condition prevented
me from doing anything physical. By the fall of 1994, my hip joints
had worsened to the point that I was on crutches. In December
of 1994 and January of 1995 I underwent two surgeries to replace
both hips with artificial joints.
After recuperating from surgery, I made my first tandem jump in
July 1995. One jump was all it took and I knew I was hooked. I
made two more tandems within a month and began AFF on August 29.
I graduated September 22.
I had a few more problems than most people and had to repeat levels.
Most of the difficulties I had were because my legs were still
weak. It seems that when the joints were replaced with prosthesis,
I lost the innate ability to know what my leg positions were.
Even on the ground, I seem to trip or stumble more than the average
person because of that loss of communication between limb and
AFF became a challenge. I didn't enjoy it. I was just determined
to get through it. Several times I was ready to quit and the only
thing that kept me coming back was the unacceptable alternative
of never jumping again. When I finally graduated I had never been
more proud in my life. For the first time, I was able to participate
in a sport and the only thing my friends and family couldn't figure
out was why I had chosen skydiving. I never have been able to
explain it to them.
To date, I have one hundred seven jumps. Unless I have a little
wind I still have trouble standing up my landings. I'm not able
to run them out, my legs don't do well at running yet, so I'll
slide them in. I figure I'd rather the bottom in a $200.00 jumpsuit
than replace $70,000 hip joints again.
I owe much thanks to the staff at Skydive Hollister for their
encouragement and teaching skills. Their unfailing patience and
sometimes creative solutions to my special limitations made it
possible for me to safely participate in an activity that has
brought an intense joy to my life.
I'm going to keep working on it at my own pace, within my limitations,
and I plan to continue jumping as long as this beat up old body
will allow. Although I wasn't able to do much in my youth, they
say life doesn't get good until after forty. In my case, it started
getting real good after forty, because now not only can I walk
again, I can fly too.
PS No, I'm not that other Jan Davis, she's just using my name!
On the sunset load on October 20, 1996, with a little more than a year in the sport, I did my six hundredth skydive, and I have no intention of slowing down the pace. I'm having a great time! For any women out there who have wanted to try skydiving, but haven't because of age, physical limitations or whatever, GO DO IT!. Even if you don't get hooked, even if it's only one tandem jump, don't deny yourself the experience of a lifetime, an experience you'll remember forever.
Today is Jan's birthday! Jan is a *famous* skydiver now because this photo
was published in the April 2000 issue of Parachutist. David Ferree (2:00), Jim Bozarth (3:00), Kelly Smith (4:00), SkyJulia (7:00), Martin Evans (9:00), George Head (11:00)
Later that same day... Jim and Jan at dinner. Photo from David Ferree.
Jan Davis and Jim Bozarth sharing some really funny dive.
Photo contributed by George Head and Jim Bozarth.
Jan Davis was filming the last tandem out of the Otter at Lodi, CA. She experienced a malfunction, cutaway and the reserve entangled with her camera helmet.
The tandem master saw her with a spinning malfunction and
subsequent cutaway. He reported a 'pilot chute in tow' to
impact. The reserve bridal had snagged under her front mounted still camera. She apparently worked on the problem all the way in. She had pulled all her handles. Freebag was out. Some reserve lines snagged the ring sight, and the freebag locking stows were still stowed. Impact was face down. Helmet was off.
Sacramento Bee Story
The family would like to celebrate Jan's
life on April 28th, 2001. Jan would have been 50 years of age. The
celebration will be held at Jan's house in Hollister.
Time: 12:00 pm
841 Calais Drive
Gwen has so much enjoyed the posts to rec.skydiving and she would like you
to have her e-mail address!
It is: firstname.lastname@example.org, Gwen's phone number is
415-665-8807. She would love to hear from you!
It will be a potluck dinner and the family asks that flowers be sent to the
There will be a memorial dive honoring Jan Devil, at Lodi:
Kathy's 3rd Annual Boogie
May 26, 27 and 28 (Memorial Day weekend)
email@example.com (209) 369-1128
To contact Jan's family and they would love to hear from you, please send
cards and letters to:
2003 Edgewood Drive
Palo Alto, California
See Jan's site at
Jan Remember's Her Dad
Jan's Friends Remember Her
ęCopyright 1996-2000 by Jan Meyer.