I think those were my Aunt M’s words.
It’s a fair question, really. One my sister S and I didn’t really think about when we agreed to do just that.
Let me tell you something about skydiving. If you talk to bunches of people–like I did–who tell you that skydiving is no big deal because you don’t even feel like you’re falling–like they told me–don’t believe them for a second.
S and I got all dressed up in our jumpsuits, and everything was fine.
We went through the basic instructions on how to bend your legs and put your arms back, and everything was fine.
We got in a plane and enjoyed a nice scenic view of the Blue Ridge, and everything was fine.
Our wrist monitors showing our altitude slowly climbed. 1,000 feet, then 2,000 feet, and on up. At around 5,500 feet (a.k.a., just over a mile), the ‘parachute tester’ in our plane jumped out. And that is when the choice words started coming out of my mouth.
He just fell. Out of a perfectly good plane.
Typical jumps are from 9,500 feet. He was testing a new parachute though, so he jumped right at 5,500 feet, which is where you are supposed to open your chute. Because of course, if the parachute doesn’t work, it’s much safer to fall from 5,500 feet than from the whole 9,500.
At 9,500 feet (almost two miles, just so you’re aware), it was our turn. S fell first–‘diving’ is definitely a better term than jumping for this sport–and then I was up.
We scooted over to the open door, my tandem jumper and I, and then I was just dangling in mid-air looking out over the tops of mountains and at the mini-houses and roads below me and the almost two miles of empty air between me and them.
My tandem jumper sat on the very edge, so I was on hanging out off the edge of his knees. Let me tell you, that does not feel safe or secure in any way. I am getting mini adrenaline rushes just remembering.
I tried, like so many people before me, to grab the sides of the door. Then I remembered I had to hug my chest so I didn’t lose a hand when the instructor jumped.
I screamed the whole time. I’m not even going to front like I was brave. I wasn’t worried or scared, I was just flat out freaked the you-know-what out.
These last three paragraphs took only about as many seconds, mind you.
And then we weren’t in the plane anymore. And then I was SO MAD at anyone who had ever told me skydiving doesn’t feel like falling.
YES IT DOES. You fall for 4,000 feet BEFORE YOUR PARACHUTE OPENS. That’s almost a MILE. Of FALLING. Of COURSE you feel like you’re falling!
The first 1,000 feet was the worst. When I left that plane, my stomach stayed seated comfortably in the door jamb while the rest of me fell for half a mile.
Then I started to remember all the leg and arm bending I was supposed to be doing.
Then Tandem Jumper opened our parachute.
My screams had turned to laughing somewhere between 8,000 and 6,000 feet, so by that time I was just flying high.
The ride down was better than any carnival ride. We would yank down on the right hand steering handle to make us go into a tight tale spin. We would turn far to the right and then far to the left and then back again so we swung around and around in circles.
I might be tempted to dive again, just for the parachute part of it.
S landed perfectly…until her instructor fell on top of her. Geeze.
My landing was beauteous. Just stepped right up onto the grass.
It really was a gorgeous day for it, too. Couldn’t have asked for better weather, or a better jumping partner.
Any skydive that ends with you in once piece is just peachy keen in my book.