"On Your Mark, Get Set -- Jump"
by Lorraine Zenka  |  Soap Opera Magazine
July 15, 1997

"On Your Mark, Get Set -- Jump" Mark Valley, Soap Opera Mag, July 15, 1997Former military man Mark Valley still gets a kick out of macho sports like paint ball fighting, mountain biking and skydiving. Valley first jumped out of a plane when he was in the Army, but his involvement in the sport has taken a daredevil turn in the last six months.

"In the Army, we were on static lines," Valley explains. "We didn't have to open our own parachutes."

In spite of his experience, Valley enlisted the help of an instructor when he started skydiving. The instructor holds the student after they jump out of the plane, to keep student and parachute in position. Now certified for solo jumps, Valley is on his own from the time he tumbles out of the plane to the moment he lands on the ground, preferably at the drop zone.

"I love the feeling!" Valley exclaims.

Floating peacefully toward earth under a canopy of silk is nothing new for this man -- but free-falling through the sky at 700 feet per second, or 120 mph, sure is.

"The stakes are a lot higher," Valley says. "But it's a cool feeling that starts as soon as we start walking to the plane. As the plane climbs, we're getting mentally ready.  There's a lot of pressure, and you need to overcome the fear and just focus on what you are doing.  It makes me nervous every time.".

Contributed by Salem.