Saturday could not have been a more perfect day. Sunny, blue skies, wispy clouds, a gentle breeze… a peaceful day that became very exciting for me for about 5 minutes.
Yep. I went skydiving!
To be honest, this is not something I had been dying to do, nor was I dreading it. I was a bit nervous about whether or not I’d actually be able to do it when the time came or if my sense of self preservation would keep me from jumping. Turns out, I had no choice – but I’ll get to that.
Skydive The Farm is an amazing facility in Rockmart, GA – about 1 hour outside Atlanta. When we pulled in, I had my first twinge of fear (or as Martie put it my “S#!t’s Getting Real” Moment) when I saw the airplane taking of from a grassy field. This was, by definition, a Buddy Holly airplane that I’m sure someone was controlling by remote control somewhere. I do have a tendency to get airsick on takeoff, so I was not looking forward to that flight.
Once we parked and headed up to the hangar, I knew immediately I was with my kind of folks. About 8 dogs were running around and playing. Matt and I immediately regretted leaving Ford and Abby at home. After signing in and filling out some waivers that I think had me offer my firstborn in there somewhere, we watched the best disclaimer video. Ever. Sidebar – working with City Segway Tours, we show an instructional video prior to tours that has a Stick Man falling off a Segway in a number of horrifying and hilarious ways. About 6 out of 10 times we hear the phrase “Now I’m nervous” after the video. Well folks, our video has nothing on this one…
I don’t remember the exact phrasing, but it was along the lines of, “You are about to participate in a highly dangerous sport. There is no such thing as a perfect plane. There is no such thing as a perfect parachute. There is no such thing as a perfect jump instructor. You might actually die doing this.” Then it went on to show an ambulance pulling into a field full of people shaking their heads and trying not to throw up. I would have been terrified if I wasn’t trying not to giggle at ZZ Top who was explaining the video. Well, actually, it was Bill Booth, the inventor of the tandem skydiving harness on the video. He also has a spectacular beard. Check it out, I’ll wait.
So, video watched, then it was time to meet Chucky – my tandem instructor. Super nice guy who, with his wife, are expecting a baby boy in September. So I knew he had incentive to come back safe. He helped me into an incredibly tight and oh so not flattering at all jumpsuit. The announcement then came that I would be in the next load. My tummy did a little flip.
I loaded onto the shuttle bus that took me along with about 11 other jumpers to the plane. A shuttle bus that seemed to have a hive of wasps nesting somewhere. It was pretty funny to see these guys who stare death in the face 10-12 times a day by jumping out of a plane freak out over a wasp.
Once we arrived at the plane, my butterflies were going full force. Oddly enough, though, I was still more frightened of the flight than of the jump. I don’t think my brain had processed past that part just yet. We squeezed in sardine style, and in a matter of minutes were off.
The flight was surprisingly smooth, and soon we were climbing to 14,500 feet. At this point, my brain had gotten to the point of realizing I was about to fall from a very high distance, and my tummy butterflies had morphed into very large fruit bats.
Then, before I realized what was happening, the door slid open and people started flinging themselves willingly out the plane. At this point I panicked because as each person evacuated, the small plane would bobble and we had to redistribute the weight. I was the second to last to head out, so I slid up to the door behind my cameraman, Andy. Next thing I know, Chucky had me in the doorway, then suddenly I was streaking through the air heading to the ground like a dart.
Honestly, the whole thing happened so fast that the second I was in the free fall I forgot to be scared and immediately started having the most fun I had ever had in my life. I free fell for 9,000 feet for about a minute. Then, pop! Up the chute went and we immediately came to a gentle glide for another 5 or so minutes.
It was surreal seeing the ground so far below up like a Google Earth map. And it was so quiet! An immediate sense of peace came over me at the beauty of it all. So much so, that when Chucky offered me the chance to steer the chute, I declined because I was enjoying the view so much. Then the most amazing thing happened – we saw what is known as a Sun Dog – a rainbow that is circular that was reflected off the clouds below us – and our shadow was perfectly in the center of it. I was immediately cursing myself for not strapping a camera to myself somehow.
All too soon it was over and we were coming to a gentle stop in the middle of the field. The adrenalin surge ebbed away, and quickly I was overwhelmed by a sense of “Boo!” as I realized I was finished. Matt came running up with a bottle of champagne and I was immediately surrounded by my friends. And all I wanted to do was cry because the whole experience was beyond words. The fact that it has taken me three days to even be able to put this down shows how overwhelming the whole experience was.
Of course, no skydive is complete without the video and rockin’ soundtrack, so please enjoy…