People have been asking me many questions this week, most frequently it has been “are you nuts?”. After I say no, at least I don’t think so, they follow up with “were you nervous?” I’d be lying if I said I was perfectly calm the entire time. But here is a synopsis of the days events.
I woke up at normal time, right around 7:30 am with a sore leg from softball the previous night. Although I was just a few short hours from jumping out of an airplane, I was perfectly calm, and my first thought was “I’m hungry”. Karen and Rob picked me up right around 9 and we headed off on our adventure. Unbeknownst to us, it was an adventure that would lead us into 3 states. Who knew the Delaware river was so small up Easton way? But I digress, we arrived at the airport right around 10:45; 15 minutes late for our 10:30 “class”.
Class consisted of watching a video where some guy with a Noah beard tells us that skydiving is fun but you can die and that if you get injured you can’t sue. But here is the kicker, if you do sue and win the suit then you have to pay all legal fees as well as the judgment. So you would sue, win, then pay yourself whatever amount you won, brilliant. It should be noted that the “class” did not consist of any training or directions on what to do during the jump, that part comes later. We then have to sign a few pages worth of paperwork. I don’t know what I signed but I had my initial down to an art by the time I filled it out. At this point nervousness kicks in a little bit, just some shots of it, still no thoughts of “maybe I shouldn’t do this”.
Next step is paying. This step was interesting for no other reason than the people in the office. A lady skydiver comes into the office with a what I thought was a British accent and talks to the woman who organizes who is jumping.
Jumper Lady: How many jumps before my friend can go solo?
Organizer lady: At least 5*
Jumper lady: Oh ok, cause I want to bring a friend of mine
Organizer lady: Is this the guy you’re doin?
Jumper lady (laughing): no, he’s my partner
Organizer lady: oh well I just thought..
Jumper lady: I’m not doin anyone right now
Please note that Karen, Rob and I are standing right there for this entire discussion. I want to laugh out loud at the whole conversation.
Following payment we are left to wait till it is our turn to get on the plane and jump. We sit and just observe the other skydivers for a little while noticing how it is pretty much it’s own little fraternity, and this makes me want to be part of it. We then hear that a group just jumped, we go outside and look up. We see nothing. A few seconds later a chute opens and we see it. Then like popcorn we see prolly 10-15 chutes in the air. It was quite the scene. I should note that I am still not really nervous and my heart rate seems to remain fairly normal.
Then our names are called. A slight spike of electricity goes through me, still not shown on the outside though. We get our jumpsuits on. Get our training. And then hurry out to the plane. It’s kind of funny, you don’t really choose who you’re going to be attached too. This would seem like a fairly important decision, as this person is going to be responsible for your life in more of a way than just about anyone else in your life. The 2 minutes before getting on the plane is a blur as my mind is now going a million miles an hour. Then we get on the plane.
This is where my mind really kicks into overdrive. I can’t tell you what I was thinking as there were a million thoughts going through my head. I am extremely nervous. During the accent my camera man opens the jump door and takes some shot, I look out and realize just how high we are. The view is breathtaking. Then we reach altitude. My mind suddenly stops. I am very nervous but strangely enough, I’m not scared. We move to the jump door. The guy on my back yell “ONE! TWO! THREE!” I am now out of the plane, 13,500ft from the surface of the earth. For a second I can hear the engines of the plane, then that fades and it just air rushing by my head. I start screaming. And then I start laughing while screaming. It was the most incredible feeling of my life. Nothing has ever compared. I was falling at 140 mph. I look for the camera man because he nearly drop kicks me in the face. Got some decent pictures and can’t wait for the DVD.
About 45 seconds into the fall he opens the parachute. A slight discomfort from the sudden deceleration is felt but nothing that you care about at all. All of a sudden there is a calm feeling about the whole situation. You can see for MILES. It is suddenly very quiet and you can talk to the guy on your back. He let me steer a bit and we did a barrel roll which is kind or exhilarating. I realize I really suck at steering and he takes over. A few seconds later we land, sliding on the grass right on our asses. I was SO excited I wanted to do it again, and again and again.
We take off our jumpsuits and helmet and go to the car.
I’ve heard of people talking about freeing your mind and just living in the moment, but never knew what it meant till the moment I jumped. I had no past, no future my entire life was just that singular moment. . And it is a feeling that I hope I don’t ever forget. I’ve heard people say it is being in control of an out of control situation and although it was a tandem dive, I can completely understand what they mean.
I hope you all do this one day. Scared or not it can be a life changing experience.