Jarrett Martin, a Junior member of the USA Freefall Style & Accuracy Team qualified to compete at the 4th DIPC (Dubai International Parachuting Championships) – however Jarrett is different from other competitors in that he is paraplegic. So USPA sought the agreement of the organisation in Dubai for Jarrett to enter.
The response was an emphatic yes “We should do everything in our power to support such a young man’s athletic desire and ideals”
This is Jarrett’s story – his refusal to allow the results of his accident to alter his drive and determination to follow his sport and achieve his goals is truly inspiring:
In 2009, Jarrett Martin, a private pilot, senior rigger, USPA AFF and Tandem Instructor and PRO-rated skydiver with about 2,800 jumps, had a ground-launching accident that left him with a broken back, a torn aorta, damaged lungs and kidneys, and paralyzed from the chest down. Within six months, he was jumping again, and in 2011, he competed in style & accuracy at the USPA National Skydiving Championships. Martin hopes his story will inspire other disabled jumpers to take up or continue skydiving.
Birthplace: Vancouver, Washington
Marital Status: Single
Occupation: Intern at Seattle Air Route Traffic Control Center
Education: Associate degree in aviation sciences specializing in air traffic control
Pet Peeve: Staircases
Life Philosophy: It’s better to ask for forgiveness than ask for permission.
Jump Philosophy: Don’t get anyone hurt.
Sponsors: Jump Shack, Firebird Skydiving USA
Container: Jump Shack Racer
Main Canopies: Eiff Classic 270 and Firebird Cayenne Light 130
Reserve Canopy: Performance Designs PD 99R
AAD: Advanced Aerospace Designs Vigil 2
Home Drop Zone: Kapowsin Air Sports in Shelton, Washington
USPA License: D-28900
Did you start out as an AFF, static-line or tandem student? First two jumps tandem and then the rest static-line.
Total Number of Jumps: 3,000 (200 with paraplegia)
Freefly: 1,000 - FS: 1,000 - Camera: 1,000 - BASE: 400 - Wingsuit: 200 - AFF: 100 - Tandem: 100 - CF: 50 - Accuracy: 50 - Demos: 20 - Balloon: One - Total Number of Cutaways: 12
Would you rather have a hard opening or line twists?
Hard opening. I can't kick out of line twists.
Would you rather swoop or land on an accuracy tuffet?
Swoop onto a tuffet.
Most people don't know this about me:
My first and only tattoo is of 3-rings; it’s on my right collar bone. A few months after getting the ink, it was the right 3-rings that came disconnected during my ground-launch accident.
Of all of your skydives, is there one jump that stands out most?
Jumping into my high-school homecoming football game.
How long do you plan on skydiving?
My bones will probably become too weak to jump within a couple decades.
What do you like most about the sport?
What do you like least about the sport?
Seeing good friends get hurt and stuff.
Who have been your skydiving mentors?
Brett Martin and the Aikins and Farrington families.
What are your future skydiving goals?
To make 100 jumps in a day.
What safety item do you think is most important or most often neglected?
Gear checks. Lots of misrouted chest straps out there …
Any suggestions for students?
Slow down! With the advancements in training techniques, you're already way better than you should be. Learn fundamentals.
What's the most bad-ass thing you can do in the air?
A style series having just control of my arms and head.
What is your favorite jump plane and why?
Pilatus Porter. They look cool, and no matter where I sit in the plane, I'm close to the door.
If you could do a fantasy 2-way with anybody, whom would it be with and where would it take place?
A 2-way with my mom (a former jumper) over Skydive Hawaii [in Wailalua].
Were you a hard child to raise?
I was pretty easy until I started skydiving and BASE jumping.
If you could make everyone on the planet do something to make earth a better place, what would it be?
Make love, not war.
What has been your most embarrassing moment while in freefall or at a drop zone?
Getting grounded by my father for lying about turning on my AAD.
Someday I am going to own …
… a big house with a runway.
What is the toughest thing to do in the sport of skydiving?
For me, it’s ignoring it to accomplish other things.
What kind of skydiving student were you?
In freefall, I was horrible. I did take well to the parachute flying.
Of all your skydives, is there one jump you would like to do over again?
I cherish all of my skydives because each one, good or bad, was an excellent learning experience.
What do you consider your most significant life achievement?
Surviving an injury that would have killed most.
Do you have any suggestions for USPA?
Instead of a 16-centimeter-wide scoring pad, make it much bigger so my feet have a better chance of scoring.
What has been your best skydiving moment?
Taking newbies skydiving in Hawaii.
What has been your greatest competition moment?
With a pick-up vertical formation skydiving team, coming out of last place in the final round at the 2008 USPA Nationals. So awesome!
What has been your weirdest skydiving moment?
Being in freefall watching my lifeless legs flutter in the wind.
What is your perfect day like?
Where nothing breaks on my wheelchair, or I wake up to find there's a simple cure for paralysis.
What drives your competitive spirit?
Obtaining the goals I set for myself is the most rewarding thing in competition.
What motivated you to continue to jump after your ground-launching accident?
To better myself in skydiving and to show others that skydiving is possible for everybody.
What was it like competing at the USPA Nationals for the first time since the accident?
Absolutely awesome. It was great feeling the competitive emotions, seeing old friends and getting tips from the legendary Cheryl Stearns and James Hayhurst. It was all mind-blowing.
How have people embraced your skydiving story?
I feel that it shows there is no limit to what can be achieved. I feel with me skydiving, there will be a rise of other disabled jumpers. Skydiving can be for everyone.
Do you enjoy style & accuracy competitions?
Style & accuracy is really fun. The community is so friendly. I got an awesome reception from everybody, and I will definitely try to compete every year.
Explain Jarrett in five words or fewer: stupid little inspirational punk kid
Do you have any closing comments?
I can do the things I do because of great people in this sport. Without them, a lot of this couldn't happen. I'd like to thank everybody who has ever helped me with things from loading me in the plane to closing my rigs to bringing me my wheelchair. I will never be able to show my appreciation enough.
With thanks to James Hayhurst; Director of Competitions, USPA. November 2013