I don’t have a bucket list, but if I did…

I went to take photos of two of my sons, Tyson and Graham, doing a tandem skydive yesterday near Baldwin, Wisconsin. When I got there, they surprised me with an early birthday present: "We’re paying for you to go, Dad." I needed no arm twisting. As I wrote back in July, I don’t have a bucket list. But as a bit of a thrill seeker, my list would likely have more than a few adrenaline rush experiences, skydiving among them.

 Wigley boys in the skydive plane Griff Wigley Tyson Wigley 
Tyson paid the extra fee to have them video his jump. The above photos are actually screenshots of the video. Yes, they’re poor quality, but they’re enough of a teaser until he gets the video posted.

I love extreme roller coaster rides but nothing I’ve ever ridden compares to this. Dangling your feet out the door of the plane for 15 seconds at 13,000 feet is thrill #1. A-n-t-i-c-i-p-a-t-i-o-n. The first 15 seconds of the plunge is thrill #2 and it was the biggest rush I’ve ever felt. Nothing else comes close. The next minute of free-falling is thrill #3. Weightlessness rocks! Add spins to it for an extra kick. The final 10 minutes of turning and spinning after the chute is deployed is thrill #4. They hand you the steering straps so you can experience how easy it is to control the chute. Landing is thrill #5.

Graham Wigley, Griff Wigley, Tyson Wigley  John Bucsko, Griff Wigley 
John Bucsko, co-owner of Skydive Twin Cities (with me in the right photo), was my tandem guy. He said this has been their best year ever despite the recession. It’s a first-class operation. The staff was fun and friendly, the plane was top-notch, and all their preparation routines smacked of a rigorous approach to safety. I watched them pack their chutes. It was like a prayer service. Complete silence as the focused completely on the task at hand.


  1. Arlen Malecha said:

    Griff –

    I too am a thrill seeker and did a tandem jump at that same location many years ago. It was the biggest physical rush of my life. The plane we jumped out of was called The Beaver.

    Once the chute opens it is so peaceful as you drift to the ground.

    I am not sure what would top that experience.

    September 11, 2009
  2. Jerry Weber said:

    I have also been an extremely satisfied customer of Skydive Twin Cities. I did it for my bachelor party in 2006. Was a day I will never forget, and well worth the price. I would recommed getting the video tape it is like jumping all over again everytime I watch it.

    September 11, 2009
  3. Griff Wigley said:


    Have you ever bungee jumped? It seems like the seconds while free-falling would be similar to the tandem jump, though the overall experience wouldn’t come close.

    September 11, 2009
  4. john george said:

    Arlen- For me, it would be watching from the ground. This reminds me of a presentation made at an airshow I attended in Duluth. The skydiver was asked why he would want to jump out of a perfectly good airplane. His response was,”Have you seen a perfectly good airplane?”

    September 11, 2009
  5. Jerry Weber said:

    yes I have bungee jumped in Cancun Mexico 200 ft and they actually dunked my head in the ocean. It was a little more intense than I had predicted, the guy who was tying the rope off couldn’t speak english and he only used his hands for measuring the length of rope. Still he did the job perfect. I am trying to think of what’s next to get my kicks!

    September 12, 2009
  6. Julie Bixby said:

    That is great Griff! I have gone the last 3 years. What a rush!

    September 13, 2009
  7. Collin Wigley said:

    Heyo! Couldn’t stand by and watch you guys have all the fun. Took my first jump on Sunday morning. Had to wait 2hrs for a break in the clouds, but once they broke, was a beautiful ride down thru some huge puffy clouds. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=etnS1Q40uf4 I’m hooked.

    September 15, 2009
  8. Griff Wigley said:

    You got the best deal on the video, Collin.

    Northfield needs to become a skydiving hotspot with Stanton airport nearby. Then when we get our kayaking park after the Ames Mill dam gets torn down, and when the Mill Towns Trail links us with Faribault and Cannon Falls, we’ll be able to sex up our “Cows, colleges, and contentment” motto with Kayaking, biking, skydiving.”

    September 15, 2009
  9. norman butler said:

    Stanton once was a skydiving hotspot. I think the gliding fraternity was instrumental in its closure some years ago…?

    September 25, 2009
  10. Bright Spencer said:

    I made a call to Stanton and one of the old time pilots, John Lee,was there to tell me that the old skydiving club became too large and rather unruly. They were asked to leave after a mishap they allegedly caused and then moved to Owatonna, where they were asked to
    leave once more. Last heard, they were in New Richmond, Wisconsin.

    Stanton is very particular about it’s safety record and intends to remain so.

    I did get the feeling that they might allow a limited
    group to operate there again, but it’s just a feeling I have, mind you all.

    Bravo on the jump, Wiggly men.

    I would be amiss if I did not pass on this bit of info, however. Two people I know, who are perhaps less
    vigorous than Griff and sons, have, when confronted with highly intense situations such as skydiving, did bring about muscular dystrophy, a condition which humans may carry genetically, or for which other circumstances may allow.

    October 1, 2009

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