‘I remember going over the town and seeing a train pulling into the Truro station'
Peter Grant was a student at the University of New Brunswick (UNB) when he got the bug - the skydiving bug - more than 50 years ago.
It was an idea that developed when he flew in small planes while working in northern Quebec and when a parachute club formed at UNB he decided to join.
"I made my first jump down to a Second World War airstrip in Blissville, N.B., on Oct. 29, 1961," said Grant, a longtime Truro resident. "Little did I know that the following 50 years would produce many skydiving highlights."
In fact, Grant, 76, has now jumped out of airplanes no fewer than 579 times, the most recent last fall in Waterville.
He's won a few medals along the way, too, the first one presented in New Brunswick in 1969.
"It would have been my 60th jump," said the Wabama, N.L., native. "It was in the intermediate accuracy competition and something really unexpected. I never thought of taking the gold medal."
Grant, along with his wife Helen, arrived in Truro in 1968 as an instructor at the Colchester Regional Vocational School and two years later thrilled hundreds with skydives during the Nova Scotia Provincial Exhibition in Bible Hill.
"We jumped several times during the exhibition that year. I enjoyed it."
A year later he flew out of Shearwater and sky dived into Camp Gagetown from 15,000 feet with Keith Ogilvie of Truro.
"We had oxygen available in the aircraft for normal jumps take place at from 9,500 to 10,000 feet," Grant recalled. "The same day we packed our parachutes, flew back to Shearwater and jumped into the airport there."
Also in 1971, an exhibition jump into Springhill during Ann Murray Days led to Grant meeting the famous singer, and in 1972 he parachuted into the Halifax Common as part of a fundraiser for United Way.
A special memory occurred in 1973 when Grant again skydived during the provincial exhibition in Bible Hill.
"I remember going over the town and seeing a train pulling into the Truro station," he said. "I recall that I landed in the horse ring. It was nice as there were people there watching who I knew."
Capturing a gold medal with his Nova Scotia senior accuracy team in 1974, Grant attended the Canadian parachuting championships in Edmonton.
"I injured my tailbone making the jump. I fractured a vertebrae and was in a bodycast for three months. It was my only serious injury."
The largest crowds Grant skydived before occured at the Moncton Air Show and the Atlantic Air Show, both of which took place in Moncton during the 1970s.
"There were around 40,000 people watching the jumps," Grant said. "You could see people everywhere."
His last medal was won in 1992 during the Maritime Relative Work Championship in Blissville, N.B. as a member of the three-man winning Nova Scotia team.
Grant still jumps a couple times a year and hopes to jump in Moncton later this year.
He spoke about the adrenaline rush that comes with jumping out of a moving plane.
"You have a 45-second delay before pulling the ripcord. I enjoy the ride down under the canopy. When the chute opens you can look around and see a lot of beauty. It takes about a minute and a half before you're on the ground."
Grant was also an outstanding swimmer and won a number of medals during Canadian championship competition. In 1989, he competed in the World Masters Games in Denmark.
He suited up for six seasons with Truro Main Brace of the Truro Commercial Hockey League and for exercise he still swims three times weekly.
TAGLINE: Lyle Carter's column appears every Tuesday in the Truro Daily News. If you have a column idea, contact him at 673-2857.