Flying above gravity's law
Kamloops lawyer Don Campbell will be looking to impress judges in November at the world skydiving championships in Dubai.
“This has been about 35 years in the making,” Campbell said.
“I’m extremely lucky to have found skydiving, which has given me limitless ability to express that testosterone-poisoned addiction to adrenaline in a way that’s actually very safe.”
When Campbell goes airborne on Nov. 28 from 13,500 feet with the eight-person national team, he will be able to forget about 1995, when he qualified for the world championships, but was unable to soar due to sickness.
The 54-year-old attorney will also be able to rid himself of memories from 12 years ago, when he was selected to compete on the four-person national team at worlds in 2000, but tore his achilles before the event and was forced to sit out.
Campbell has been a part of five national-championship winning teams since the turn of the millennium — and he can’t wait to let the free-falling begin.
“It’s like having 200 kilometres an hour of available power that you can apply to every square-inch of your body,” Campbell said.
“If I wanted to fly over there [Campbell pointed across the street from Zack’s Coffee in downtown Kamloops], all I need to do is think about it and I can be there in a second.”
Campbell’s obsession with skydiving started about 25 years ago, when his career as a professional moguls skier fizzled due to injury.
However, his penchant for extreme started long before that.
“I was the kid that would jump off roofs and didn’t have a lot of respect for physical limitations, which I should have,” Campbell said.
“I’d have a lot less broken bones and concussions.
This year’s national team — Campbell, along with Garth Brown, Bruce Robertson, Andrea Greening, Sebastian Leybold, Brett Gersekowski, Aidan Walters and Heather Porteous — travelled to North Carolina to train in a state-of-the-art wind tunnel, which blows 200 kilometres of wind at practising skydivers, allowing them to stay afloat.
“This is the first time I’ve been involved with a group of people that were resolved enough and cohesive enough that we could actually train enough to get to worlds,” Campbell said.
The team was able to log 15 hours of practise in the 30-foot mesh-bottomed silo.
The trip south cost both time and money for Campbell and his team, but the commitment will pay off in Dubai, where the world championships — held by Sheikh Mansour Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, chairman of the championships, and Matar Al Tayer, chairman of the higher committee — will be held in style.
“I understand, from people who have been to events put on by the Crown Prince, there are big tents filled with food and gold plates and they put us up in hotels that are outrageous,” Campbell said.
“I’m going with my wife and that was one of the draws. She is solar-powered and likes shopping. I don’t think they do that anywhere better in the world than in Dubai.”
There is no money in skydiving, so the lavish bonuses will be payment enough, considering many world championships are held “. . . out in some desert somewhere, miles away from civilization,” Campbell said.
“It’s a pretty Spartan experience.”
Perhaps Campbell’s love for flight was passed down from his father, a spitfire pilot in the Second World War, but Campbell is not sure there is any connection.
Whatever the reason, Campbell said his adrenaline addiction is never something he will ever be able to quell.
“I’ll be skydiving to within two or three weeks of when I die,” he said.
“It’s all about dedicating yourself to the absolute perfection of flying.”