Although not on my original goals for the year, isn’t it always nice to do something unexpected? Afterall (and I’ve said this a few times) the point of the list is to take advantage of opportunities as they come. And any of the 101 Things to Do Before You Die goals that have been impromtu have been my favorites. My opportunity came in July with my daily Groupon deal. Usually tandem jumps cost $225 but this deal was for only $145, so I couldn’t miss out on the savings! At the suggestion from friends that have already gone skydiving, I decided that I would like something pretty to look at while floating down for 5 minutes (after the parachute is pulled), so I booked it for October so I could see all the fall foliage. Also, I just finished my big annual fundraiser at work, so what better way to celebrate its successful completion than jumping out of a plane?!
On October 10, 2010 (10.10.10), we headed to Louisburg, NC to the Triangle Skydiving Center. We arrived at 3PM and signed the usual “you may die” waivers. We then watched two other groups go up for their turn. It finally came our turn around 4:30 and we were called to the briefing room to get dressed. We put on jumpsuits, got strapped into our harnesses, got helmets, goggles, and altimeters. We headed outside to the hangar as they finished packing our parachutes. I kept expecting there to be some kind of training but soon we were headed to the plane and nothing had been said about what to expect.
Both Alex and I had chosen to have ourselves videotaped/photographed, so as we headed to the plane, our videographers “interviewed” us and continued to take photos and video of us on the plane too. We took forever to climb to 14,000 feet and as we continued up, my guy, Peter, began the process of strapping us together. He asked if I had any questions about the dive and all I asked was how bad would the jerk be when the parachute was pulled. He said it would just be a tug and pulled on my harness to give me an idea. We also went over what position I would need to take whenever we first jumped out of the plane. But that was about it for training!
Alex and his guy Doug were the first of the tandems to jump (the experienced skydivers went first) so I got to see my husband sucked out of a plane. That was a little disconcerting, especially considering I was next. We shuffled to the door, and with me facing the front of the plane and my left towards the door, we counted 1-2-3 and tumbled out of the portal.
All I saw a blur of blue; we were flipping over and over and I couldn’t tell the difference between the sky and the ground. We straightened out and the videographer (who had climbed out of the door just prior to us and jumped at the same time as us) flew up near us to get photos and video. He kept gesturing to get me to do poses, but I couldn’t figure out what he wanted me to do. In the video, you see me mostly just smiling and at one point, I give a thumbs up. Honestly, I hadn’t really thought out what I would be doing on video, so I didn’t have anything cool to do.
When we first jumped from the plane, my stomach DID drop, just as it does on a roller coaster. But soon I didn’t feel like I was falling. We were so far up, the ground actually didn’t look like it was getting closer and there were no clouds to pass by. Mostly it was just a lot of wind hitting me in the face (and at 120 miles an hour, no wonder). My ears hurt from the drop/wind whistling through. After about 60 seconds of free fall, we were near 5,000 feet and it was time to pull the cord. He patted my shoulder to let me know he was pulling the parachute and we jerked upwards. The jerk was MUCH more than the little pull he gave me on the plane.
We then had about 5 minutes to float down to the ground. Peter showed me how to maneuver the parachute to go right, left, and slow down or speed up. But spinning to the right and left made me nauseous. In addition to feeling sick, I was having trouble breathing because the straps were so tight. I mentioned it to Peter and he loosened the strap that was across my chest.
As we neared the ground, I pulled my knees/legs up and we slid in on our bottoms much more smoothly than I thought we would. The video guy came up to me immediately to ask how I liked it and I mumbled something about enjoying myself but really, I felt like I was going to throw up. I sat on the ground for a while longer and took several deep gulps of air.
When I finally spoke to Alex again on the ground, he was all smiles. He had a great time and enjoyed himself without getting sick. He had actually gone to a local beer festival the night before and was rather hung over. So he was a little out of it and probably could have enjoyed himself more if he had felt better. When his guy Doug pulled their parachute, the jolt was very hard, harder than it should have been. You can see in his video that his jerk is much worse than mine. Doug commented that it was the hardest jerk he had ever had on a tandem jump. Apparently, someone packed their parachute incorrectly. So Alex was rather stiff afterwards, probably with a bit of whiplash.
I really liked the free falling part but in my old age, I’m getting increasingly prone to motion sickness. It got to me when we were at Cedar Point last summer riding roller coasters back to back. Between the pressure of the straps on my chest and swinging back and forth in the air, it was just a little too much to take. Interestingly, I never really felt like I was strapped to Peter until he had pulled the parachute; of course, then my whole body weight was pulling on all of the straps as I was hanging from his body.
I probably won’t do it again, but definitely an experience I’m glad to have!
So what do you think? Have you gone and want to do it again? Think I’m crazy for jumping out of a perfectly good plane? Are you like me and have jumped but think its not for you?