would you want to jump out of a perfectly good airplane?"
This is the most popular response I got when I told friends
I was going to try skydiving. Well, now that I've been there/done
that, I can tell you that the airplane should not exactly
be classified as perfectly good. I typically define an airplane
as having a co-pilot, a door, and seats; none of which was
found in our plane. . . but I digress. . .
Kristy and I had been talking about skydiving for over three
years. It was exactly the type of rebellion that Roadchicks
are famous for. So when Kristy said she had a skydiving date
set with some friends from work, I couldn't say no.
Our first attempt was in mid-July. The evening at the Manchester,
New Hampshire airport wasn't too ominous, but it seems that
Hurricane Ohmygod was just south of us and a tornado/hailstorm/gusty
crosswinds were going on to the west. I attempted to get out
of the airport for 6 hours before Kristy and I decided that
it wasn't meant to be and rescheduled for September.
Luckily, the September trip was perfect. Wedged between two
overcast weekends, we had our perfect skydiving weather (thanks
to our Weather Karma). Clear and sunny and cool enough to
require long sleeves but not a jacket, which led to visibility
to Delaware and New Jersey (from the sky).
We were greeted at the airstrip/trailer park by seasoned
skydivers and timid first-timers alike. We dutifully sat through
the 20-minute video (Skydiving for Dummies), left a credit
card and signed our lives away in triplicate. Then it was
on to get changed. . .
The skydiving suits were frayed, neon, and fit like a glove,
an extra-small latex glove, that is. Unless you pissed off
your instructor, you were also supplied with gloves, a leather
helmet, and goggles (although Saran Wrap probably would have
provided better protection). Then we were shuttled in small
groups to the plane.
Gwen and I were on the last manifest out of our group so
we had the chance to watch everyone on their way down and
attempt to learn from their mistakes as well as spend a little
extra time with our instructors. My instructor, Bill, was
fabulous and for a half hour that day, was my very best friend.
People always ask if I was scared. . . Honestly, I wasn't
too nervous. I'm not afraid of flying or anything and had
been practicing yoga for quite a while so I just concentrated
on my breathing and stayed calm. . . until we were at 13,500
feet, Bill was attaching his harness to my harness, and he
was telling me to scoot closer to the door. Closer, closer,
closer. . . Yeah, then I felt a little nervous. So he leaned
forward and we fell out of the plane. Just like that. . .
it was amazing. . . I screamed like a crazy-woman because
he told me he'd scream if I did. . . so there we went, screaming
through the sky at ~120 mph through a few wispy clouds for
about a minute. The sound of the air rushing by my ears was
unbelievable. . . that's the only way I could perceive the
speed because the ground didn't really seem like it was approaching.
. . we were just too far away ("Look, all those cars
look like little ants from up here.")
he opened the 'chute and it was dead silent. . . not a sound!!
I could see into two other states plus the ocean. . . it was
beautiful. The closest I'll ever get to being a bird. The
parachutes are surprisingly maneuverable. Bill let me steer.
We could turn with ease and even spin (which rocked for a
person who loves vertigo).
My landing was unmemorable. . . suddenly the ground was approaching.
. . and I could tell. I tried to remember the video and lift
my legs up, but I think I reached for the ground at the last
second. I didn't hit hard, but tripped, fell forward, and
succeeded in taking down my instructor. All in all, a great
So what are my tips??
*If you've never been in an airplane, maybe you should overcome
that hurdle first.
*Pay attention to your instructors. You can zone out through
the video and still make it to the ground in one piece.
*Don't get too close to the propeller. . . remember, propellers
chop off heads!!
*Contacts vs. Glasses. . . hmmmmm. There were lots of people
who lost their contacts that day. . . they just get sucked
out of your eye during the freefall. I wear extended-wear
contacts, but I didn't have a problem. Glasses don't seem
like the best solution either. . . so just get Lasik surgery.
. . or duct tape your glasses to your head.
*Go with friends. You'll share an amazing story and probably
get a group discount.
*Enjoy yourself!! Don't close your eyes!! The view is great.