Take a flying leap (or watch me take one)
Ok, here’s the low-down on my skydiving adventure. I’ll try not to bore you with the details. Or maybe I will. Hey, I did a tandem jump and you didn’t (presumably), so I can do what I want!
The Back Story
I met a woman, Georgia, through a women’s networking lunch group a few years ago and we really hit it off. I was in her office one day shortly after we met and noticed photos of her in skydiving gear. It turns out that Georgia’s son was a jump master/skydiver dude and that she had done her first jump in her 40′s. Cool!
Flashing forward to about 2 months ago, Georgia and I were emailing each other about getting together one of these days, and I mentioned I was interested in going skydiving (cuckoo) and could she recommend a place. She mentioned that a group of friends was going to a place in Canton, OH for a day of jumping on July 13th and would I like to come along? Voila! My idea had now crossed over into reality (or insanity).
You should also know about a month ago I started dating someone, who for purposes of this post I will call Fly-Boy because, well, he came along with me skydiving. It wasn’t a prerequisite to date me or anything like that, but when I casually inquired whether he had ever done a jump before (trust me, this came up naturally in conversation…at least I think it did), he said, “No, but it’s something I’ve always wanted to do.”
Hmmm. (Are the gods o’ wacky ideas testing me?)
I mentioned my July plans to Fly-Boy and half-jokingly asked him if he wanted to come along. Turns out he did and a week and a $30 refundable deposit later, he was signed up, too.
By the way, when he said he wanted to go I warned him there were no guarantees about how I might act under duress, that I might do something horrible like vomit on him. He said it wouldn’t be the first time.
How sweet is that?
The Big Day
On Sunday morning we drove the 90 minutes in the rain watching the gray, dismal, cloudy skies the whole way. We arrived, met everyone and then waited. And waited. And waited for a good 2 and a half hours, praying that the skies would clear so we could do this STUPID SKYDIVING BEFORE I CHICKEN OUT. And you know what? The skies cleared for us; you can see in the photos just how blue the sky was, but let me tell you it looked quite stormy in the morning.
So the place came alive and they started prepping us and our fellow tandem jumpers. We went through a short training with Mike, who claimed to be the perfect instructor and ended up being my tandem master. (To be honest, I would have called him God as long as he got me down in one piece.)
A little later, after the first 4 people went up (they could take 2 in a plane at a time), I went to the bathroom about 15 times and then we got suited up:
We looked very top gun-ish, don’t you think? And dorky. Fly-Boy looks quite serious about the whole thing, but he apparently has a policy of not smiling in photos. Especially those before he is going to jump out of an airplane.
Then our boys helped us into our S&M/Lifesaving harnesses.
We were ready.
An Overview of the Experience
The bottom line: it takes 20 minutes for the plane to get up to altitude at 10K feet. About halfway through your ride up in the comfy (cough-cough) cabin, which is the size of the terribly small closet you can only use to store your underwear, you turn around and kneel in front of the person responsible for your life so he/she can hook you up to him/her. Then, when the time is right, the tandem master going first opens the door and looks out to find the right locale and conditions for the jump, or something like that. All I know is that you are going 80 mph, the wind is blowing and HELLO! the door is open.
When it’s good to go, you are instructed to place your right foot on a wee-little step next to the professional’s (this entails you looking to see that your leg is now outside of the plane), hang your left knee over the edge of the door, cross your arms — and, after your jump buddy pushes off, buh-bye. After jumping you have to kick your legs back, hold your head up, pray a lot and off you go. Fall. Whatever. A few seconds and a tap on the shoulder later, you can open your arms for the rest of the free-fall, which only takes about 30 seconds. The parachute ride is about 6 minutes. You can help steer, which is cool.
Live Vicariously, If You Dare
I think converting the video to the right format and uploading it was even more harrowing than doing the jump itself. But if you want to experience a lot of dorky, nervous giggling before, during and after I throw myself out of a perfectly good aircraft, you can watch it here. The second video clip is the free fall in real time — about 30 seconds. You know, at a rate of 120 mph from 10,000 feet.
A few notes:
1. My apologies to all of Ohio for previously saying your topography is boring. Up in a plane on a clear day, it is actually quite picturesque and lovely. During the free-fall I couldn’t really comment.
2. Despite the silly giggling, I swear to you I really wasn’t “nervous-nervous,” even when the door opened or stepping my foot out on the little step, which freaked out some of the other jumpers. That said, I experienced sheer terror when we did the nosedive out of the plane and somersaulted until righting ourselves. For some reason I wasn’t expecting that. Sheer. Terror. for 2 seconds.
3. The video is proof that I am a) a dork, which we’ve established; and b) need to lose some weight to avoid having a double chin recorded in future videos. Oh, and my teeth appear much bigger than normal (which means big!) when my gums are literally flapping in the breeze. Ah, well. What can I say? I jumped out of a plane and you (presumably) didn’t, so there.
4. The only part that upset my stomach was doing a spiral. One of those “seemed like a good idea at the time” moments. Kind of screwed with me for a good hour afterwards. Fly-Boy got carried away and did 3 spirals! That really caught up with him after he landed.
All right, so here they are, if you care to watch:
In real time:
Did I hear someone say kuh-ray-zee?
PS. Georgia asked what Fly-Boy and I were going to do for our next date. We both agreed the movies might be a good idea!