SID: Hello, Sid Roth. Welcome to my world where it’s naturally supernatural. My guest, Mickey Robinson. Mickey, there was a historic date in your life, August 15, 1968. You’re just doing the normal thing. You’re a skydiver. That’s not too normal. Why’d you like skydiving?

MICKEY: Well Sid, ever since I was a kid I was fascinated with adventure. I looked at everything that flew over my house, whether it was an airplane or the Goodyear blimp. I studied the astronaut program from it’s birth in the National Geographic. I always was fascinated with flight and always wanted to fly. Of course I liked the TV Superman…

SID: What is it like floating in space? What does it feel like?

MICKEY: Some of the misconceptions is, do you get that sinking feeling like in an elevator? No, because you’re not attached to anything that’s supporting gravity. Like even if you’re in an airplane, gravity is hold you against the seat. But after you go out of the airplane, you begin going very fast. 32 feet per second squared. And so in 1000 feet you’ll achieve terminal velocity, which is you won’t go any faster if you don’t change your body position, which is between 125 or 130 miles an hour. Actually it feels like you’re floating. Your body actually makes a tremendous aerodynamic device. By changing your body position, you can track, fly…

SID: Is there a high that someone gets when they do that?

MICKEY: Yeah, it is a real high. I mean if you like that kind of stuff. I was a natural athlete, I played football…

SID: Alright, let me take you back. August 15, 1968. You’re going for your wonderful flying, and you’re in the airplane. And when did you first realize something was wrong?

MICKEY: Well, to me, at that point, and after only 20 jumps I was so proficient I became a professional, which is unheard of. And so to get in an out of an airplane, this was going to be a practice jump, it’s as casual as to get in and out of your car to drive to work.

SID: Automatic.

MICKEY: No psyche-up. That’s not the cool part. As a matter of fact, that is actually the boring part, so I kind of waved at the people and was kind of falling asleep. The airplane did pre-flight check, we took off. We were going probably 100 miles an hour, maybe 100 or 150 feet in the air. And the first thing I remember is the pilot yelled and slapped me in the side and said, “That’s it, we’re going down. We lost our engine.” I was awake. I was kind of drowsy because I knew it was going to take a long time We were going to let out two students, one at one altitude, 4000 feet, or actually 2800 feet, his first jump. Another at 4000 feet that’s going to take time to go around and around. So I was so into this the flying part was kind of boring. There was 5 skydivers and the pilot. Three of us were professionals, two were students. So my first realization something was wrong was that moment, and then it was just seconds. We lost our lift too, which the aerodynamic physical property which makes an airplane fly is lift. This plane was a new plane for him, and he thought it was like a rocket, so he really rotated at a steep angle of climb. And he lost the engine, it completely quit flying, so it just drops. Aerodynamic stall. It dropped straight down like a rock.

SID: Tell me what happened at the crash.

MICKEY: We impacted a giant oak tree and I was flung forward. My body was going as fast as the plane was, and then suddenly it wasn’t. My face stopped my body going 100 miles an hour, so I had a severe head injury, my face was torn open from here up to here. The airplane cart wheeled on it’s wings, slammed in the ground. The crash was devastating. There was confusion, and what I’m about to tell you is really… I have a vague, kind of dreamlike remembrance of some of the things. The two students were banged up and they were in shock and the third one helped rush them out of the plane. The fourth man, which should’ve been the first one out of the plane, because he was right next to the baggage door which had been removed from the 6 passenger Piper Cherokee, was just leaving. And as he was leaving, beginning to run away, flames went out. The plane started to catch on fire. And then he heard screaming, realized the pilot and myself were in fact trapped inside this burning airplane. And this guy who was my friend and mentor for skydiving went back inside the burning airplane and saw me with my legs sticking through a hole that was torn where the wing had been attached to the fuselage.
And I was pulling with my right hand, but I was soaked with fuel and I was on fire from head to toe, like maybe you’ve seen in Saving Private Ryan or something.

SID: This is unreal what you’re describing!

MICKEY: And then I was stuck. I couldn’t get out. This thing that had been my chariot to pleasure had been now my funeral pyre. I was burning alive. And somehow with supernatural strength, this man tore those parachute straps loose, dragged me away from the airplane, and got me on the ground. And it was hard to put the fire out because of the high octane of the fuel. And he got it out and yelled to the pilot, he said, “Undo your seatbelt.” The pilot was the only one that was in a seat. We had removed all the seats. He said, “We’re going to come back and get you”, but by that time, the wing on the left side, which was empty, exploded. The vapors exploded, it was too intense, and he was in fact killed. They rushed me to the closest little hospital.

SID: Did they see any chance that you could survive?

MICKEY: Well you know, the first guys on the scene were the skydivers and then the paramedics. And when the paramedic came, a neighbor must’ve seen the fire or the crash and called an ambulance. And we were out in a country area, but not far from a suburb of Cleveland. And the paramedic put an oxygen mask on my face, and when he did, the whole right side of my face slid off and fell on the ground.

SID: Oh my gosh.

MICKEY: And my rescuer, my skydiving buddy, was kind of hysterical and panicky, and he actually knocked the paramedic out in shock. Cut the mask off, because it didn’t work on my face, and put the oxygen in my mouth and just held it there.

SID: Just the tube?

MICKEY: Just the tube. And I asked Dan how bad it is, with the smoke and all that, he didn’t know, in my condition, how it would be to even make it to the hospital. I was young, I was a professional athlete, I was in perfect condition, but I was really severely injured. And the problems with my kind of injuries, the shock can take you right out. The burns that I had were massive, plus I had a head injury and the cuts and all that. And the shock to your system, you can just die of shock. Your body will just go into shock and die. But I in fact lived through the night and the next day, and then what happens is the exposure to things that burns can cause, the complications. And everything they tried heroically, with medicine and treatment and technology of that day…

SID: The pain must’ve been awful.

MICKEY: The pain? There’s no drug that can stop this kind of pain. They say, and I remember, the pain was unbelievable. The relief came in that I shortly began to go comatose. My brain began swelling and would go in a coma.

SID: So you’re blind in one eye, your body’s not operating, your brain’s not operating, your digestive system…

MICKEY: And then I started to get massive infection.

SID: Oy vey. We’ll be right back, and guess what happens. He leaves that body and goes to heaven. Be right back.

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