Geronimo! Local dentist, official take 14,000-foot plunge

Dr. Mike Kubinski (bottom) during free fall with Cliff Alfiche, an instructor at Midwest Freefall Skydiving. Photo courtesy of Midwest Freefall Skydiving.
Dr. Mike Kubinski (bottom) during free fall with Cliff Alfiche, an instructor at Midwest Freefall Skydiving. Photo courtesy of Midwest Freefall Skydiving.

A dentist and a politician jumped out of an airplane together.

That’s not the start of some corny joke. It actually happened.

Last week, Oxford dentist Dr. Michael Kubinski and Oxford Township Supervisor Bill Dunn went skydiving in Macomb County’s Ray Township.

“I’ve been knocking a few things off the bucket list,” said Kubinski, who’s been practicing in Oxford since 1981 and is part of the North Oakland Dental Group.

Kubinski and Dunn both made 14,000-foot tandem parachute jumps, meaning each man was attached to an experienced skydiving instructor. They did it through a company called Midwest Freefall Skydiving.

This was Kubinski’s first time skydiving.

“It’s a fast trip, but it was a lot of fun,” he said. “I never felt nervous. I just felt excited. Jumping out of the plane was the most intense thing, I think, maybe, I’ve ever done.”

This was Dunn’s second jump. He took the big plunge last year to celebrate his 70th birthday.

“It was just as thrilling as the first time,” Dunn said. “I was a lot more relaxed this time. I wasn’t nervous, but still, you’re up 14,000 feet and when that door opens, you realize it’s a long way down.”

It was because of Dunn and Kubinski’s 28-year-old son, Joe, that the dentist decided to experience this new thrill.

About three years ago, Kubinski’s son went skydiving and sent his dad a video of the experience. That planted the seed in his mind.

Then last year, Dunn, who’s Kubinski’s patient, told him all about his skydiving experience and showed him his video of it. Dunn told Kubinski he was going to jump again and invited the dentist to join him.

“I said, ‘Bill, if you’re going, I’m going,’” Kubinski said.

Kubinski and Alfiche leap out of the plane at an altitude of 14,000 feet. Photo courtesy of Midwest Freefall Skydiving.
Kubinski and Alfiche leap out of the plane at an altitude of 14,000 feet. Photo courtesy of Midwest Freefall Skydiving.

“I like things like this. I’ve always had some speed in me,” he noted. “I like my roller coasters. I like the sensation of that.”

Fast-forward to June 21, 2018.

After arriving at the drop zone, located at 62912 Kunstman Rd., Kubinski and Dunn watched a short video together, read and signed waivers, put on harnesses, then had the whole process, from exiting the plane to landing, explained to them by their respective instructors, Cliff Alfiche and Nate Plumb.

Alfiche, of New Baltimore, has been skydiving for 42 years and has made approximately 16,000 jumps, of which about 7,000 were tandem jumps.

Plumb is a Troy resident who’s been skydiving for about six years. He’s made “a little over 1,200” jumps, of which about 500 were tandem jumps.

After they completed their paperwork and instructional time, Kubinski and Dunn boarded the plane and headed off into the wild blue yonder. Once they reached an altitude of 14,000 feet, or 2.65 miles, the door opened and it was go time.

“Looking out (of) the airplane, that’s a moment I’ll never forget because there was nothing in front of me but the ground 14,000 feet below. That moment was pretty intense. You’re way up there,” Kubinski said.

“At that moment, I was pretty focused on what Cliff was telling me to do. It’s just sort of a leap of faith, I guess.

You’re certainly counting on all your equipment and the person that you’re attached to, to get you down safely.”

The next thing Kubinski knew, he was leaping out of the plane and racing downward through the air at 120 miles per hour with absolutely nothing between him and the hard ground.

“All your senses are just cooking,” he said. “You smell some of the fuel from the airplane. The wind’s hitting you really hard. The rush of the air kind of stiffens you up. It’s really noisy. There’s a constant roar. You can’t think of anything else. You can’t be daydreaming up there because it all happens so fast.”

Dunn agreed.

“It’s hard to relax when you’re free falling with the wind hitting you at 120 miles an hour,” he said.

According to Kubinski, “it wasn’t long before” Alfiche opened the parachute.

“That was fun because Cliff let me steer the chute a little bit,” he said. “You can control the descent of the chute really pretty well. You can slow it down or speed it up.”

Dr. Mike Kubinski (left) and Oxford Township Supervisor Bill Dunn chat about the experience following their tandem jumps. Photo by CJC.
Dr. Mike Kubinski (left) and Oxford Township Supervisor Bill Dunn chat about the experience following their tandem jumps. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio.

Under the parachute, the descent rate is about 1,000 feet per minute.

“I enjoyed coming down,” Kubinski said. “The scenery’s just gorgeous. You’re looking down at the farmland . . .

Everything’s nice and green. It was a beautiful day. It couldn’t have been any better.”

According to Dunn, when the parachute opens, the experience becomes “very serene.”

“It’s quiet. You get to guide (the parachute) and talk to the instructor,” he said. “It’s so peaceful just gliding around up there.”

Kubinski can now add skydiving to his growing list of adventures, which already includes scuba diving, elk hunting in Colorado and Montana, and fishing in Alaska.

“That’s what makes me tick,” he said.

Last year, he trekked all the way to the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

“It’s a full-day hike down, 4,500 vertical feet,” Kubinski said. “About 8 miles later, we got to the bottom and stayed there for two nights, then hiked back out.”

Kubinski can’t wait for his next skydiving excursion.

“I’d do it again, for sure,” he said.

He highly recommends it to others, especially “if you’re an adventurous person.”

“It’s something you’ll never forget,” Kubinski said. “Do it with a friend. Make it fun.”

For more information about Midwest Freefall Skydiving, please call (586) 752-5867 or visit www.MidwestFreefall.com.

A person must be at least 18 years old to skydive with Midwest Freefall.

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