The last time Scotty MacLaren made a skydive, it was many years ago when he was raising funds for the Tidemark Theatre.
This time, on Sunday, he made a tandem jump with some other local folks, to commemorate his wife of 47 years, Sheran, who passed away last November after battling cancer, but also to support the local search and rescue team.
Earlier this year, MacLaren started mentioning he wanted to make a jump and people began to express interest in joining him.
By jump time the ranks had grown to 10 plus MacLaren, though one person had to leave before their jump time because of a prior commitment.
With many first-timers along, each person was hitched up with an experienced tandem jumper.
The free fall portion typically lasts about 35 to 40 seconds, with another four or five minutes of time in the air once the parachute opens.
The experienced jumper has the responsibility of making sure everything happens smoothly, so the rookie does not have to worry.
“That person is basically along for the ride, and it’s one hell of a ride,” said Pacific Airsports’ Roy Wharton, who took up the skydivers.
Prior to the jump, Wharton and jump instructors Rob MacNeill and Darryl Cattell went over the necessary things for the new jumpers to know, such as exiting the plane safely, proper positioning and what to do at different elevations starting at 10,000 feet.
“This is a big trust moment,” MacNeill said, adding: “Enjoy the view, it’s absolutely amazing.”
The first tandems included recruits Jim Costain and Kim Patrick.
They landed with mid-afternoon approaching to the applause of supporters at Campbell River Airport.
Patrick was cheered as she approached the security fence and excitedly told her group they had raised about $2,500 for the cause, while a beaming Costain said: “Now that I’ve done it, I’d do it a million times.”
For a while, a second plane was added to move along the process, until finally, by about 8 p.m. the main attraction himself climbed into the plane and was off into the wild blue yonder.
Under calm skies and facing little wind, he touched down in the landing area shortly before 8:30 p.m.
Supporters greeted him with a tumbler of Alberfeldy scotch, produced in the town where he was born, from which he sipped following a brief toast.
With his 80th birthday approaching this November, MacLaren realized a tandem dive would be a better idea than a solo jump.
With his first jump, MacLaren raised almost $6,000 for the Tidemark.
This time he wants to raise $15,000 to buy a two-person all-terrain vehicle, or “quad,” for Campbell River Search and Rescue.
At jump time, he had yet to do the official tally.
But he was confident they had met their goal and were on their way to $20,000.
While the jump was a fundraiser, it was also a commemoration of MacLaren’s wife.
Considering the impression his first jump made on him, a second jump seemed the perfect choice.
The memory of the first remains vivid in his mind.
“It’s the most serene moment you’ll ever have in your life,” he said.
“It’s quiet, the seagulls fly by, and that to me is one of the nicest things about it.”
Sunday’s Skydiving team:
Joining Scotty MacLaren in the skies Sunday were:
Isabelle Snow (subbing for Marcus Huber)