The time has finally come, America. The moment you’ve all been waiting for, your breath bated and chest heaving (heaving?) — my adventure jumping out of a plane.
We arrived early in the morning. I got zero seconds of sleep the night before, so that was just a wonderful start to the day. The first thing we got to do is fill out waivers saying that in the not-as-unlikely-as-I-would-like chance we die, they aren’t responsible for anything. As we filled out the waivers, guys who look like they just got out of prison took 30 seconds to demonstrate proper form, and then we follow their lead. When I did my form, they said “yeah, close enough,” and told me to sit back down. A lot of fuzzy feelings happening right then.
Afterwards, a guy who looked like he was filming on location from an Amish farm gave us the warning that skydiving was dangerous, as though that hadn’t been on my mind every second of every day for the last four months. His beard wanted us to make sure we knew what we were doing, but if I already signed the release waiver, Gandalf wasn’t going to change my mind then.
The next step was getting suited up. Other than getting my left testicle almost completely smashed to nothing, it went pretty well. It also marked the time that things really started to sink it. I double and triple checked my equipment to make sure it was all working correctly, despite the fact that if it wasn’t I’d have had no idea. My guy did a quick camera interview. Apparently, when I’m nervous, I lick my lips more than the Joker. Then we boarded the unreasonably small airplane and lifted off.
There was a group of about five to six jumpers stuffed into the plane, and each of us was connected to a professional tandem jumper. They made us squeeze in between each other’s legs, but I honestly didn’t care at that point; they could have pressed our faces together in a weird sexual fetish thing and I don’t think I would have noticed. The fact was that I would not be coming down in that plane, and that’s all I could think about.
As we were rising, one of the guys opened the sliding door on the side of the plane, revealing the hatch that we would be leaping from. It was, in fact, incredibly high in the air. A fact that was exacerbated when they said we were only halfway up.
We continued to climb. Behind me, Lee was completely stoic. Like he was dead. Or died on the way up and nobody noticed. Gary was in the front, chattering away to anyone who would listen. He was positioned as one of the first to go, and I wasn’t jealous. I, on the other hand, kept making cracks about how I hoped the crater my body left in the ground wouldn’t be too big, until one of the other tandem guys turned to me and said “Seriously. Shut up.” Thanks for alleviating my fears!…jackass.
In what I thought was all very sudden, people started jumping out of the plane. It’s a weird feeling seeing someone you know jump out of the door and disappear into the sky, but not as weird as knowing you’re gonna do the same in about 15 seconds.
My partner and I waddled up to the door. I curled my legs over the side of the door and against the belly of the plane, like instructed, crossed my arms, and then we were falling.
This was my favorite part of the jump, and maybe it’s just because my mind knew how epic the whole thing was — we jumped out and tumbled a few times through the air in pure free fall. A few seconds later, we stabilized into the face down position. What’s interesting is that, while you would assume you’d lose your stomach and feel yourself racing to the ground, you really don’t. You actually don’t really even get the sensation you’re falling. The ground is too far away, and the wind resistance is pushing up against you. It feels like you’re just floating in place.
After about a minute of this, in which I embarrassed myself multiple times by doing this idiotic “surfer dude” gesture that I’ve never done in my life before or since, he pulled the chute. Surprisingly, the fear that it wouldn’t open was only in the back of my mind at this point, and not consuming my entire brain. There was a light tug, and then we were floating. The biggest difference was how quiet it was; with the rush of the wind gone and the fact that we were still way above the earth, it seemed like the most quiet, serene experience ever. I also realized that with the zero G came an extreme wave of nausea, which was less serene. He kept wanting to do these tricks and maneuvers, and I all I wanted was to not throw up all over his chute (in so small part because of the fact that my mind imagined a scenario where the puke broke the chute somehow and killed us both.
After about three minutes of freefall, we landed, and it was over. Totally a worthwhile experience, but because of the amount of money involved, it will probably be awhile until I go back. Still, I encourage everyone to try it once. It’s not as much of an adrenaline rush as I was expecting, but it is an experience that is unmatched. Plus, if you go tandem (which is required), it’s super safe. Trust me. I spent hours researching it myself.