To break up the stream of reflective, somewhat emo posts about the end of school…I went skydiving yesterday!
If you don’t already know, I do not like roller coasters. Hate is maybe a strong word, but I really do not enjoy them. I do not find the fluctuating G-forces fun, I do not care to be turned upside down repeatedly and rapidly, and floods of adrenaline generally does not make me feel good during or afterward.
So why did I do it?!
Honestly, the best answer is probably, “Bad impulse control,” followed somewhat paradoxically by, “Dogged determination to fulfill my commitments.” About two months ago, I was up to my eyeballs in stress from teaching full-time, commuting 10 hours a week, and applying/interviewing for jobs at schools much closer to home. (I didn’t know then that I was about a week away from receiving a job offer.) One of my friends posted an open invitation to join her in celebrating her freedom on the day of her ex-husband’s wedding by jumping out of a moving airplane strapped to a hopefully well-trained stranger. At the time, my thought process went approximately like this: Hell, why not?
Within about 24 hours of saying that I would do it, I started having second thoughts. I realized that I would be jumping. Out of. An airplane. I remembered that I do not like heights, or falling, or going fast. But my friend had already sent out an excited email and I didn’t want to let her down and there was part of me that really wanted to be a badass even though the rest of me knew I’d probably scream like a banshee. I thought about backing out at least five times, mostly in the day or two before we left. I was even willing to forfeit the $50 deposit, but I knew that I was probably never going to have the opportunity to do this again, so I stuck it out.
We went to Ohio Skydiving Center about half an hour from downtown Columbus. The instruction and preparation process was surprisingly (and not altogether reassuringly) low-key. There were three of us in the group and every few minutes a staff member would wander over and strap one of us into a harness or go over part of the procedure or show us something on the plane.
Before I quite understood what was happening, they were shuffling us onto the plane. (Because we were “lighter than average” they let all three of us go up at once…usually they only take two guests at a time.) The plane, a small Cessna something-or-other, was not as noisy as I thought it would be, though we pretty much had to shout to hear anything. We were packed like sardines and apparently because I was getting video footage, that meant I had to go last.
It took us maybe 20 minutes to climb to jump altitude. When we first took off, I thought, Oh, this isn’t so bad, but I changed my mind quickly as the ground quickly got farther and farther away. In fact, “Oh, this isn’t so bad,” was pretty much my brain’s self-protective mechanism throughout this entire process. As I watched the instructors open the jump door and my companions fall out of the plane one by one, my brain chirped, “That doesn’t look so bad!” with increasing desperation. And then…
Free fall lasted about 35 seconds and the parachute opening was probably the second-best feeling on earth. We cruised over Fairfield County, and I saw rainstorm from the air, which was pretty neat. Maybe a minute or so after he opened the parachute, my instructor pointed at another plane above us. One small speck (presumably two people in tandem) jumped, and then another, when my instructor yelled, “Breakaway!” as an even smaller speck detached from the second jumper. Turns out that was the main parachute (which may have eventually landed on top of a Meijer building), so they had to deploy the reserve parachute. I am quite happy this did not happen to me.
Eventually we descended back to the airport, and the solid ground beneath my feet was the best feeling on earth! When we were maybe 3 minutes from the ground, my instructor went over the landing procedure, which involved pulling the loops of the chute down really hard and lifting my legs up – a process called flaring. I think we were supposed to land on our butts but I ended up with my knees bent so my instructor just told me to stand up. My comrades were all laying on the ground and I suddenly felt quite compelled to join them. On the plane ride up, my instructor had told me about the adrenaline crash that happens after your body realizes that you aren’t going to die, and it hit me big time once I was on the ground.
Overall, I’m pretty proud of myself. I didn’t cry, pee in my pants, throw up, or scream the *entire* way down. Would I do it again? Although there’s a teeny part of me that wants to go again now that I have a better idea of what to expect, I’m inclined to think that once was enough for me. And now I can truthfully say that I’ve done something my far-more-adventurous fiance has not and will never do. Also, I want a GoPro.
Quick auto-cut of my video footage made with Magisto…
Thanks for reading!