Uncommon Kindness

Episode #728.

January 14, 2023

The following is a true story from my book, “Skydivers Know Why Birds Sing.”
It is truly a story of sacrifice, heroism and uncommon kindness.



In 2004 Paula went to Thailand with the skydiving World Team. Their goal was to set a world record for the largest freefall formation. The plan was to connect 400 skydivers in freefall.

The event was at the invitation of the King of Thailand. One of the conditions of the invitation is that the World Team combine with Thai skydivers to perform a 672 person demonstration jump into Bangkok. Paula was nervous about the demo and so were the organizers. Injuries incurred from tight landing areas could jeopardize the freefall record attempts. As it turned out there were no injuries in spite of some roof and tree landings. Paula had a very good landing.

Many stories have come out of the demo and the 400 person Thailand skydiving World Record attempts, but none quite as stunning as one heroic flight.

Paula had been on all the freefall record attempts. On one attempt she failed to take a correct grip on the formation. The organizers asked her to stand down for the next jump. Sadly for her, on that next jump 357 team members completed, setting a new world record.

Since there was daylight remaining the World Team decided to put up another attempt, this time to beat their newly minted record.

Paula and several other skydivers were added to the team. This would be her chance to be on a record after all.

During this next record attempt Paula was in one of the four C130 Hercules aircraft. Seated in the airplane were 90 skydivers all with oxygen tubes. They were exiting at 20,000 feet so breathed oxygen from 12,000 feet. 

Everyone was calm and contemplative as the fleet of five Thailand military airplanes climbed to altitude. At the three-minute warning everyone stood up, made last minute gear checks and did some deep breathing of oxygen.
The tailgate opened.

As Paula stood up she noticed a fellow skydiver, distracted, with a blank look in his eyes.

She lunged toward the man and pushed him up against the side wall of the airplane. Three other skydivers, who happened to be doctors, joined Paula in restraining the hypoxic skydiver.

Green light. All formed up. “READY, SET, GO.” Everyone rushed out the door. Bodies swept past Paula and company. 

The dazed skydiver was unresponsive. One of the doctors pulled an oxygen hose over to the victim. After some deep breathing his hypoxia was relieved.  During the climb to altitude his oxygen tube had been pinched off. He recovered quickly and thanked everyone for saving his life.

Paula’s act of heroism took away her last chance of being in this year’s record, but she had no regret.

In fact, she later said that it was the best flight she had in Thailand. The skydivers were allowed to go up to the cockpit during the flight down. They looked out over the pilots’ shoulders at a panoramic view of the Thailand countryside.

The setting sun washed over that countryside, through the cockpit windows and shone onto the heroes that rode down in the airplane.

“Skydivers Know Why Birds Sing” by Ricki T Thues is now available on Amazon.
It is a Love story of Rick and Paula Thues and their 35 years of Skydiving.

Click HERE to buy the paperback or Kindle ebook at Amazon.

Follow Ricki T Thues on Amazon HERE.

“Technically Human” by Ricki T Thues, the iMentor, is available on Amazon.
It is a compilation of selected episodes from this bLog which tell the story of Humanity through the eyes of the iMentor.

Click HERE to buy the paperback or Kindle ebook at Amazon.
The ebook version of “Technically Human” is also available on Kobo. Click HERE.
For you Barnes and Noble Nook readers it is available for Nook. Click HERE.
The “Technically Human” ebook is also available on Apple Books . Click HERE.




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  5. Karen January 17, 2023

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