Darryl Worley takes a 14,000-foot plunge, grinning all the way
The wind howling through the Blackhawk helicopter's open doors at 14,000 feet drops temperatures near freezing for the members of the army's elite Golden Knights Parachute Team huddled inside.
There are also a couple of country stars - http://www.cdnow.com/switch/from=cr-8379171-1/target=buyweb_products/Art... -->
Morgan - with them, getting ready to jump!
" was="was">born ready," Darryl declares. "From the time I was a kid, I remember wishing I could skydive, and there's nobody better than the Golden Knights to do it with."
Darryl can't wipe the grin from his face. Craig's looking a bit more settled; after all, this is old hat for him - a veteran army paratrooper, he's made about 150 such jumps. He was invited to join the fun for Darryl's maiden leap.
As Darryl moves toward the chopper's doorway, the other Knights start to whoop and holler. The anticipation is incredible, like reaching the top of the first drop on a huge roller coaster.
"Thirty seconds!" a voice shouts over the roar of the wind and the rotors. Darryl - harnessed for an extra measure of security to an official Knights tandem jumper - tightens his grip on the bar across the chopper's ceiling, then leans out the door.
Seconds pass, then - whoosh - they're gone. They simply vanish. Darryl is on the ride of his life, whooping at the top of his lungs all the way. He's followed minutes later by Craig.
Darryl's latest hit, "Second Wind," is breezing up the charts, but now he's catching some serious wind of a different kind - at 120 miles per hour - straight down.
"Unbelievable!" roars Darryl moments after landing on a grassy Ft. Campbell, Ky., field. "I'm ready to go back up! I want to tell you something. That's as close as man's ever gonna get to flyin', right there! Whoooo!"
Don't hold back, Darryl. How do you really feel?
"It was wild!" he roars. "I can't wait to do it again! I'd do it every day if I could - if I knew my parachute would always open!"
Darryl may be ready to go again, but a post-jump phone call lets him know that not everybody shares his enthusiasm for his newfound passion.
"I called home and they'd been having a prayer meeting," he smiles. "I could hear 'em saying 'Praise the Lord!' in the background once they knew I was all right.
"My dad said, 'Son, you make damn sure I'm in the grave before you do this again.' "
His father's concern is understandable. Darryl's aunt - his father's sister, Nancy - had lost a long struggle with cancer the day before the jump. Darryl considered postponing the adventure to be with his family, but had spent time with his aunt shortly before her death and knew she would want him to do it.
He reassures his dad. "I'm all right, Pop," he says. "I didn't mean to worry you. I love you."
Darryl also takes risks with his music.
"I've always known I wanted to record and perform traditional country songs," he explains. "It means something to me, and there aren't that many people who do it anymore. The risk is that it's not the going thing nowadays."
Darryl's always lived life that way. He does the things he wants to do - like jumping out of a helicopter.
"A lot of people probably think I'm crazy," declares Darryl. "But I had a chance to jump with the Golden Knights. So, hell, I did it!"
- David Scarlett