Mr. CPA and I aren’t exactly what you would call ‘joiners’. We’re a bit quirky and non-conforming and we like it that way.
However we are thrilled that 26 years ago today, Mr. CPA became a member of an exclusive club in which almost no one actively seeks membership. The Caterpillar Club.
There are no dues or meetings and the club is fairly small because only about 10 people per year qualify for membership.
The rule for membership is so simple that it is contained in a single sentence:
Members of the club must have saved their lives by using a parachute to jump out of a disabled aircraft.
Now Mr. CPA might point out that he did not jump so much as he was forcefully flung out by the centrifugal force of the plane’s inverted spin after he popped the canopy immediately following impact, but this, dear reader, is a technicality of a very minor sort.
The headline from the front page of the Pensacola Journal
The distressingly meager remains of the two planes
The rip cord that opened the best parachute ever
As it turns out, Mr. CPA had not personally checked his parachute before leaving because things had been a bit rushed getting ready for the training flight. He thought about it as he and the instructor hurried out to the plane but told himself, "I'm not going to need it."
To show his gratitude to the diligent workers who had obviously both packed the chute well and checked it correctly, Mr. CPA (in his then capacity of Mr. Marine Corp 2nd Lt.) bought a case of beer for each of the parachute packers on duty that day. Because when you're a young guy in your early twenties on military pay, a case of beer is a lot of gratitude.
But really? It wasn't enough.