D4DR: The Thrill Seeking Gene
Is there a thrill seeking gene?
During the summer of 2004 my daughter Rebecca and
I visited the Woodbine Airport in Cape May County, New Jersey where had I opened my first parachute
school in 1969.
I took Rebecca on a tour of the old drop
zone--which is now a beautiful development of $500,000 custom homes and
stables--and the hanger area where I had my office and parachute loft. We also visited the
hangers where my jump plane was maintained.
◄My knees in the
breeze over Woodbine
One of the hangers is used by an ultra-light flying
operation which sells rides over the Atlantic coast beaches. In fact, while
surfing on the beach in Sea Isle we saw quite a few ultra-lights flying up
the beaches. Seeing them fly at the beach gave us the idea to go to the airport and
see them up close.
I felt considerable nostalgia driving into the
Woodbine Airport. I ceased all jumping activity there in about 1974. After
leaving Woodbine I opened drop zones in Pennsylvania and another location in
the twin chain-saw engine ultra-light I built
got out of the car at the main ramp area and looked around. At the far end of
the runway we could see a small ultra-light aircraft setting up for a landing.
Rebecca and I watched while the ultra-light landed
and taxied to near where we were standing. A woman got out of the ultra-light and a man got in. Rebecca and I were both
thrilled to be so close as the ultra-light aircraft took off.
age 7, first hot balloon ride
As the craft flew away the woman who got had gotten
off walked toward us and said "Hi."
We introduced ourselves and I told
her that I had operated a parachute school in the field she had just flown over
She told us that she and her husband were
psychologists at the state school in Woodbine. She said that they both
wanted to fly in an ultra-light since they first saw them flying over the
school. Today was the day for their flight. She loved
I told her that I built an ultra-light and have a
landing strip on my property from which I flew my ultra-light to Woodbine on
my second flight.
I told the woman that Rebecca was
twelve and had already flown a dozen flight in a hot air balloon and a
number of J-3 Piper Cub flights. During our chat, Rebecca said, "I
can't wait to jump out of an air plane."
Daring and beautiful at 2000
feet in a hot air balloon over the city of Vineland, NJ.
After that comment by Rebecca, I turned to the
woman and jokingly said "I think she must have my thrill-seeking
The woman gave me a fake look of
astonishment and said, "Da ya think?!"
I wasn't quite sure if she was joking or was
serious. I said, "Well, I doubt there is really a gene for thrill seeking; I
The woman said, "Oh, no, there really is such a gene
which has been identified in many people who do the things that
you do. I can't imagine
that both you and Rebecca not having it."
I was astounded. I told her that I couldn't wait to
get home to Google for 'thrill seeking gene'.
With little effort on Google, I discovered that a gene, known as D4DR, has been
found in people with propensity toward
thrill seeking activities. The first reference below is for a club which has
been formed by carriers of the gene.
Rebecca's elementary school in a picture taken by her at age
11 during a J-3 Piper Cub ride with the door
open. Her toe can be seen at
the bottom of the picture. ►
After doing considerable research I found that people
who skydive, rock climb, fly airplanes and hot air balloons probably have
this thrill seeking gene.
It's interesting to realize that both Rebecca and I
began climbing trees at a very young age and, in her case, she is a very
avid and proficient rock-wall climber.
Some day when I'm rich, I'll have Rebecca and myself
tested for D4DR to prove what I'm already convinced is true: Rebecca and I
have the D4DR gene.
Research resources for this article can be seen here:
If you have comments or question regarding this
document send mail to me HERE.