By Vernon Robison
Moapa Valley Progress
Daniel Mendoza of Overton received an exhilirating gift last week for his 73rd birthday. His son, Corey, took him skydiving on Saturday, April 28 out of Cottonwood, Arizona. Mendoza took the big jump out of a small aircraft attached in tandem with a skydiving instructor. The instructor worried about when to pull the parachute and Mendoza just enjoyed the ride.
Corey, who is an experienced skydiver, took the big jump on his own.
It wasn’t Mendoza’s first time skydiving either. Back in the 1960s when Mendoza served in the Army as a truckdriver, he joined a civilian military post skydiving club at Fort Riley in northeastern Kansas where he was stationed. Club members were allowed to use military parachutes and equipment and jump from military aircraft.
“It was just for fun on the weekends,” Mendoza said.
During that time, Mendoza logged 67 jumps. But, after that, he hadn’t made another jump in 47 years. That is, until last week.
In any case, the birthday experience was just like old times, Mendoza said.
“It was a blast!” he said. “Once you get out there and the wind is hitting your face; it was just like riding a bike. You never forget it.”
Mendoza’s biggest concern was about how the final moments of landing would go. His memories of jumping with military parachutes and equipment were of occasional rough landings. When he was younger, that was less of an issue. Now in his 70s, though, he worried about the pains that would be involved in such a landing. But his worries proved groundless.
“My instructor let us down really soft,” Mendoza said. “It was nothing at all.”