Franklin police chief doubles as part-time skydiving instructor

  • Franklin police Chief David Goldstein sits in an aircraft in Pepperell, Mass., waiting to jump.  Courtesy of Skydive Pepperell

  • Franklin Police Chief David Goldstein walks off the field in Pepperell Mass., last Saturday after completing a jump.  SKYDIVE PEPPERELL

  • Police Chief David Goldstein is seen after completing a skydiving jump.  Courtesy of Skydive Pepperell

  • Franklin police Chief David Goldstein jumps out of Skydive Pepperell’s Twin Otter aircraft last Saturday after two tandem jumpers, sporting his Batman-themed custom jumpsuit. Skydive Pepperell is based out of Pepperell, Mass. Courtesy of Skydive Pepperell

Monitor staff
Published: 10/29/2017 12:41:22 AM

Standing near the door of a plane 13,000 feet above Pepperell, Mass., Franklin police Chief David Goldstein did look a lot like a superhero.

Maybe it was the way he perched beside the open window of the Twin Otter, confidently surveying the miniature roads, houses and foliage below. Or maybe it was his custom-made yellow, black and gray jumpsuit with the Batman emblem on the chest he wore while doing it.

The confidence and the superhero status are well earned, products of his 1,500-plus career plunges.

“Are you ready to jump?” he said to the group of 10 skydivers sitting in two adjacent rows in the aircraft last Saturday.

Then, he propelled himself into the sky.

Goldstein, 65, has been the Franklin police chief for eight years. Before that, he was in other law enforcement positions for another 30. He says being a police chief is “the best job on Earth.”

But when it comes to leaving Earth, Goldstein says the sky is where he feels most at home. He’s been a skydiving instructor at Skydive Pepperell for the past 13 years.

His first skydive was in 1998, when he was a state trooper. His supervisor was a sport jumper, and invited him to accompany him at SkyDive New England in Maine.

Now, he jumps almost every weekend. He says his wife calls herself a “skydiving widow.”

“She knows come Saturday and Sunday, this is where I will be,” he said, standing in a dropzone “packing tent” – the place where divers go to pack their parachutes into the backpacks they wear on each jump.

Goldstein makes an average of six jumps each weekend. He said jumping is a nice break from his job; he calls it a “mini-vacation.”

“For the few minutes that you’re in the plane, that you’re in freefall, and the minutes you’re in the canopy and you have to land, you have to think about what you’re doing,” he said. “There’s no time to think of anything else.”

Goldstein has three different jumpsuits, each enabling him to fly through the air at different speeds, and each emblazoned with the Batman logo. His 170-square-foot parachute also displays the Batman emblem.

Goldstein describes Batman as his “childhood hero.”

“Every boy has got to have a hero, and Batman is mine,” he said.

Goldstein said when he was young, his mom didn’t let him read comic books and he would hide them in his room. He said he liked Batman because the hero had to work for his accomplishments – no twists of fate like Krypton, spider bites or nuclear accidents gave Batman his superpowers – just dedication.

“Every time I jump, it’s a little bit like fulfilling a childhood dream,” he said.

Goldstein’s part-time weekend job is to teach people how to jump out of the sky on their own. On Saturday, Goldstein was training with a student who was finishing up his A license.

There are four basic licenses in skydiving – A through D licenses. An A license takes at least 25 jumps to master, and a D license – like Goldstein has – takes 500.

Dropzone owner Fran Strimenos said the company has learned to rely on Goldstein as a trusted instructor. Goldstein is also a safety and training advisor at the dropzone, Strimenos said.

“He’s so composed and a great instructor, probably from all those years being in leadership roles,” she said.

A major draw to Pepperall for Goldstein is the community there.

“Everybody here, we all have one thing in common and it’s this,” he said. “We all learn to speak the same language when we’re here.”

This is not only the skydiving community in New England, but one of many similar groups all over the world. Goldstein has made jumps in Hawaii, Nevada, Arizona and Florida. He even plans his vacations around jumping, packing his parachute and jumpsuit in a suitcase.

Skydiving is not just a hobby for Goldstein, but a way of life.

“It’s the place I feel like myself,” he said.

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