Holy crap! I jumped out of a plane!
Let’s think about this for a sec… Heights? Afraid of them. Flying? Don’t like it. Falling? Terrified.
But, last Saturday, I jumped out of a plane.
I don’t talk about work on here a lot because this is my ME-time, but last October my boss announced that “we” (anyone within our large work family that wanted to) would go skydiving as a sort of team-building exercise.
From the moment it was first announced I was on the fence about participating. I decided the week leading up to Jump Day that I would not be jumping. I tend to be a big chicken, and I also tend to worry about the worst-case scenario…these are not things I’m proud of. 😉
The night before, I was a wreck. I was crazy stressed, and just wanted Saturday to come and go. One thing you have to understand about our work family, is just that, we are one big family. These were my family members about to hurl themselves out of a plane at 13,000 feet. I was very nervous!
I woke up Saturday feeling much more at ease than the night before. I picked up some donuts and coffee for everyone to nosh on while they waited, and made the drive up to Zephyrhills.
It’s about a 30-minute drive, so it wasn’t bad at all. I had never before been to Skydive City, but knew I was in the right place driving up. The parking lot was packed!
We had a large group and tried to complete a lot of the necessary items beforehand to cutdown on wait time, but there was still a bit of a wait before our first group (6 jumpers were taken up at a time) were suited up.
I was still feeling a bit uneasy and really just wanted all of our jumpers to get this over with. 😉
Eventually our first group was suited up, briefed, and then hopped in a plane. What felt like 10-15 minutes later, we were squinting up into the sky.
My boss was the first to land; it was a very smooth (read: safe) landing. The remaining five from group one landed just a few moments behind him. It was at that time that my nerves started to dissipate.
I began to look around the facility and noticed how bustling it was, and even though all of the tandem instructors were all kinds of kooky and crazy, something just felt right. 🙂 The entire operation was well organized and every safety protocol that could be taken, was. Hell, I found out one of the videographers (Billy, who ended up being my videographer) has done over 18,000 jumps! I’m sorry, what?!
It was in that moment that I decided, I could do this.
I still wasn’t going to though…
Around the time our third group of jumpers went up, one of my coworkers (who I am very close with and look up to, but also watch out for) cracked under some light-hearted peer pressure and agreed to join the list of jumpers.
I almost wish someone had taken a picture of my facial expression because I know it had to be good… It was right then that I KNEW I had to jump. If Marie was doing it, she wasn’t doing it alone.
Ahhh! What did I just do?!
For about the next hour my stomach my stomach twisted and turned, and I’m pretty sure I peed about five times (there was no way I was going to be the one that peed her pants while skydiving).
Eventually I was introduced to Scotty (my tandem instructor) and Billy (my videographer). Scotty got me all suited up, and did a quick (yet thorough) initial-brief. Then Billy pulled me off to the side to do a quick interview.
There were so many things running through my mind at this point. I was on the verge of tears, I kid you not.
Within minutes we were boarding the plane. This part was nice. The views were great! I felt safe in my jumpsuit and harness and goggles (can’t forget the goggles). And then…
Holy crap! This isn’t a round-way ticket! This is a one-way ride!
To avoid overwhelming the jumpers, the briefs/directives are dished out in segments. Looking back, that makes a whole lot of sense!
Scotty got us all clipped together and explained how we would get to the back of the plane, how we would jump, and how the freefall would play out.
And then, it was go time.
I asked Scotty for no flipping/no twisting/no spinning, and what do you think was the first thing he did? A backflip! Honestly, I didn’t even know he did one until he told me once we were back down on the ground. 😉
During the 60-second freefall, Billy “swam” over to us and grabbed my hand and we were spinning around in a big circle. This immediately brought back some bad Little Teacup memories and I started to feel very queasy.
Also the jumpsuit zipper that was whacking my throat wasn’t helping matters…
When it was time to pull the parachute, we separated from Billy and then Scotty got to work. In the video (and really all skydiving videos) it looks like a Tower-of-Terror kind of moment whenever the parachute is opened. In reality it does NOT feel like that. It was quick and smooth and there was no “jolt” at all.
It was at this time that Scotty gave me the “canopy” handles to control. I did not want to. I didn’t want to steer and what would happen if I accidentally let go?! He immediately reassured me and said that I didn’t need to steer, but I did need to hold on to them because he had to tend to a couple other things.
One being the adjusting of my/our harness. He started by saying, “I’m going to loosen the harness around your hips. It’s going to feel like you are falling. You are NOT. I got you!”
To be honest, I knew that he did.
The loosening didn’t freak me out. It was very minimal and it was done one side at a a time.
And then…it was time to sit back and enjoy the moment. Scotty was great and pointed out all the beautiful scenery.
As the ground became closer and closer, Scotty briefed me on the landing.
Granted there was no turning back now, the landing was what I most feared.
He told me to bring my knees up and point my toes; however, if something is “off” he is going to shout for me to stand up. He won’t know if something is “off” until the last 2-3 seconds before we touch down.
Of course in my mind…”oh crap! oh crap! oh crap! oh crap! oh crap! oh crap! oh crap! oh crap! oh crap! oh crap! oh crap! oh crap! oh crap! oh crap! oh crap! oh crap! oh crap!”
I could not have asked for a more smooth landing. I never even touched the ground!
In the end, skydiving is both the most exciting and most terrifying thing I have ever done all rolled up into one.
Do I regret doing it? Hell no!
Would I ever do it again? Nope!
I am so unbelievably proud of myself for taking something I feared so much and facing it head-on. This experience has made me realize I am capable of so much more than I give myself credit for. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and has created memories to last a lifetime.
And now, for your viewing pleasure… my jump!
Please note: I was seriously on the verge of vomiting 80% of this video, and when I am nervous and/or scared, I get very very dorky.
Questions of the day
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
Ever been skydiving?