Well this week I did something that I have always wanted to do. It is probably one of those things which require the greatest leap of faith of anything a person can do. It involves trusting, totally at least 2-3 other people who you probably have never met before. One has a very technical and arguably the most critical of the jobs, one literally has your life in their hands and the third (if needed) has both the second persons and your life in their hands.
Let me explain. The first person I am referring to above is an airplane pilot responsible for getting you and the second person off the ground and to an altitude of 14,000 feet. The second is the jump master or instructor who is responsible for making sure you have the harness on correctly and that you are properly attached to their harness. In addition they may (and usually do) pack their own chute, so they can become the third person, the person who packs the most vital part of the equipment, the parachute, so it opens properly.
Yep, I jumped out of a perfectly good airplane at 14,000 feet, then fell for 9,000 feet (over a mile and a half) and then glided down to a not so soft, but definitely safe landing, in short, I had my first tandem skydive. A tandem skydive is when you are attached to an instructor and they do the chute release and guide the chute once it is open. For more money and more training you can do a solo jump which of course means you are responsible for the opening of the chute and the guiding.
Remember that feeling you get in a dream when you fall? That is exactly the sensation you get when you jump out of the door of the plane. Only instead of lasting only a second it lasts several as you reach terminal velocity of between 120-130 MPH and fall to your release height, generally around 5,000 feet. The chute was a slow opening model so rather than jerking you harshly it was more like a quick stopping elevator as it caught the air and allowed us to fly. By the time you are done, your adrenal glands are running on empty.
We swooped and turned and pirouetted in the air as we came down to a “butt” landing. Yep, we landed sitting down with only a small bounce or two. No bruises (at least that I can see) and nothing broken. It was a great experience.
The sky had numerous small white fluffy clouds at about 8,000-9,000 feet so we literally were above the clouds at 14,000 feet when we lept from the plane and drifted down past them. Unfortunately we didn’t go through one but just realizing I was free of any constraints and above the clouds was quite a heady experience.
I don’t know if I will ever do it again, but it was definitely worth doing. Of course now my daughter is saying she would love to do it, so I may have to take her. Of course, that will have to wait a couple of months as she is about 3 months along with my third grand child.