Testosterone Alfresco

Once a year, the adventurous Jenkins boys will be boys, reforging the bonds of brotherly affection by nearly killing themselves

Aug 1, 2000
Outside Magazine
"Brothers, are you? All four?"

We nod, and Steve Woodford's hawklike head pivots, looking at each of us. "Well, mates," he says, in a jaunty South African accent, "this is a simple sport. Do it right, you live. Do it wrong, you don't."

He holds back a grin.

"Equipment failures occur," Woodford continues, "but they're not the primary cause of bouncing. Pilot error is what kills people. Panic."

He would know. He's jumped out of a plane 7,824 times, pulling his reserve chute on seven occasions. He's a Colorado-based professional skydiving instructor. He served in South Africa's Airborne Special Forces, won medals at national skydiving competitions, and holds several sky-diving records. With a tan, creased face, and trim physique, he is the paradigm of an ex-paratrooper.

He slots in an ancient-looking video, and we watch as a man at a brown desk in a brown suit with a ZZ Top beard tells us that there is one death for every 46,500 jumps and that if we have any doubts whatsoever about what we are about to undertake, it is our grave responsibility to reconsider.

Naturally, we've already signed the waiver: I understand the scope, nature, and extent of the risks involved in parachuting. I understand that parachuting is a dangerous activity in which there is substantial risk of injury and death. I expressly and voluntarily assume all risk of death or personal injury.

"Enough of that nonsense," Woodford says, ejecting the video and dropping a parachute pack onto the table. "Let's learn how to jump."

So begins another brother adventure.