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Soldier takes skydiving to new heights

Capt. Michael Simpson jumping out of good airplanes

Capt. Michael Simpson, 17th Fires Brigade, enjoys the release that skydiving provides. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

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Capt. Michael Simpson has no problem jumping out of a perfectly good airplane.

"I made my first jump about six years ago during airborne school," said the plans officer at the 17th Fires Brigade. "From that point on I was hooked. It is such a mind clearing experience."

Since that first jump, Simpson (no relation) has earned his commercial skydiving license and is a member of the United States Skydiving Association. He has made more than 500 jumps.

"This is an exciting sport, and it is no more dangerous than rock climbing or riding a motorcycle," Simpson continued.

"The USPA is a first-rate organization."

Begun in 1946, the United States Parachute Association is a nonprofit individual membership organization dedicated to promoting the safe enjoyment of skydiving.

It boasts a membership of 34,000 members who made nearly three million jumps last year at more than 220 authorized drop zones nationwide.

"I love the jump," continued Simpson, "and jumping is a great way to get away from the stress of the week."

He said that he has averaged between 100 to 200 jumps per year, done mostly on the weekends.

"I made almost 200 last year," Simpson added.

His highest jump was from 13,500 feet.  While he has jumped solo, he said he likes to jump with a group numbering from eight to 15 other skydivers.

"I have jumped with as many as 100 divers at one time," he said with a grin.

As for training, Simpson stays in good shape and practices in a wind tunnel. 

"It's a great place to simulate skydiving and work out techniques and procedures," he said.  "And I really enjoy focusing on getting everything right before and during a jump."

Skydiving will remain an important part of Simpson's life for the future.

"Work and family are important," he said as he pulled his Mirage G4 parachute. 

Simpson added that his mother has done a jump with him, but that his girlfriend is still contemplating making a jump. 

"I think it's important to put some dedication into your life that is outside of your job and family.  There has to be a balance between the job and family."

For Simpson, that balance is achieved by jumping out of a perfectly functional airplane.

For more information about skydiving, visit

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