SC skydiver leaps with stars and stripes

spalisin@thesunnews.comJune 29, 2014 

Jamie Lynn of Socastee will make a parachute jump with Old Glory and a POW-MIA flag early Sunday afternoon at Shepherd of the Sea Lutheran Church in Garden City Beach. PHOTO COURTESY OF SANDY LYNN

— Jamie Lynn likes taking one big leap with the Stars and Stripes to say thanks to veterans and everyone in the military for all their service and sacrifices.

The professional skydiver from Socastee has become an occasional sight across the area with his jumps, and even outside of Independence Day, he fits right in.

A mechanic and truck driver for Greenwall Construction Services Inc. of Socastee, Lynn always packs a 33-by-65-foot version of Old Glory and a 5-by-8-foot POW-MIA flag with a bagged, 37-pound weight underneath, so the big flag stays straight in the air, for each journey out of a plane about 5,500 feet down to the ground. He said the Federal Aviation Administration also clears the air, according him a 2-mile radius.

For about 10 years, he also flew with the U.S. Army’s Green Beret Parachute Club skydivers from North Carolina, welcomed as an honorary civilian guest “right before 9/11,” and he said, that crew “took me all over the country,” to the point of often being “somewhere every weekend jumping.”

Lynn, in his 42nd year of marriage and a father of three grown children, reiterated that his skydiving is “not about me,” but recognition of service personnel “past, present and future.”

Question | How has this sky-high pastime become part of your life?

Answer | I’ve been jumping with this flag for about 15 years now. I started jumping with it as my way of saying thanks to the veterans and active military personnel. I was never able to serve; this is my way of saying thanks.

Q. | Where have some jumps been made, besides outside your place of worship in 2012, at Shepherd of the Sea Church in Garden City Beach?

A. | A couple of years ago, the pastor asked what we could do to make our annual “Patriotic Sunday” – as we call it – special, and we do it all around the Fourth of July, and I volunteered my service to jump. A lot of the people knew that I jumped, but none or most of them had been able to see me jump with the flag. ...

I’ve jumped in to S.C. State University, Clemson, N.C. State, Duke, Coastal Carolina, the Pelicans’ stadium ... and different venues.

Q. | When you jump from a plane, what are the specs before and after you take that big step?

A. | Hovering about 5,500 feet above the ground, that’s high enough altitude for me so if have any malfunctions or problems, I can still deal with it. ... It gives me about five minutes in the air with the flag.

Q. | What factors add up to make the whole jump work right, from top to bottom?

A. | The wind direction and speed determine where I get out of the airplane. I want to be upwind from my landing area, so the wind kind of brings me back. ...

I’m flying in a rectangular canopy, which is steerable, so I can fly upwind, downwind or crosswind. ... If you have a wind blowing at you, you can go up to 25 mph – that’s as fast as the parachute will fly. You can’t let yourself get too far downwind, because then you can’t go upwind.

Q. | What process ensues to unfurl the flag?

A. | I deploy my parachute ... and check everything to make sure that the parachute is flying correctly, then I deploy the flag, then I reach up and stow the brakes, and that’s when I start flying the canopy. So it’s pretty much when I immediately jump out of the plane. ... It’s not a routine, yet it is a routine, but there’s a lot of things that can go wrong; you just have to constantly be on top of that. ...

I’ve never made a jump where I hadn’t asked God for guidance and support, to make each jump safe, the people in the plane safe, and the people down below safe. He gave me this talent, and this is what I use it for.

Q. | Where else have leaps been made as of late?

A. | I just jumped in Gettysburg, Pa., for the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association; they did their annual convention up there.

Q. | Any favorite song for landing and concluding another jump?

A. | It just depends on the sponsor and whoever I’m jumping for. ... Most of the time, I’m coming in and they’re playing the national anthem, Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” or Toby Keith’s “American Solider.” ...

Usually what I’ll do is at 2,500 feet, I’ll signal the ground by doing a complete 360, then my wife, Sandy, can cue the music, or whoever’s helping on the ground, will be ready for the singing of the national anthem or the music to start, so that by the time the song is finishing, I’m landing.

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