alpaca princess (renniekins) wrote,
alpaca princess

Free Falling

The original plan had been, of course, to go skydiving on wednesday. However we decided it would be more practical to schedule for tuesday (yesterday). Then if tuesday's weather was bad, we'd still be able to try again on wednesday. This provided us with a backup...always wise. Fortunately tuesday turned out to be a perfect day for skydiving. Good thing too, since today wasn't nearly as nice.

It was a long drive there, deep into rural country. We were driving along the road for awhile, and I was staring idly out the window at the trees. That's when I saw it: a parachute in the sky! Suddenly it became real -- that was going to be ME soon. I watched it as long as I could. Shortly, we were pulling up to a big empty field and a restored farmhouse that housed the Cleveland Parachute Center.
Black and Pink Jumpsuit

Black and Pink Jumpsuit
There were five of us who were doing tandem dives that day. The plane could only fit two pairs at a time, so we split up. Curly and I went up last. It was exciting watching the three pairs come down first, then finally it was out turn. They fitted me in a charming black and pink jumpsuit -- I grew quite fond of it, actually.

We approached out airplane and Curly said something to the effect of, "I can't believe we're going to jump out of this plane!"

I scrutinized the plane thoughtfully and said, "Actually it's probably a good thing we're wearing parachutes. This plane looks kinda scrawny."
Top Gun Moment

Top Gun Moment
The plane we went up in was tiny. It was basically just a metal tube with wings, and it was very cozy with five of us squeezed into it in a jumbled pile. Six counting the pilot. Me, my tandem, Curly, her tandem, and a videographer for Curly's jump. I was going out first, so I was closest to the door.

Taking off was pretty amazing. I've flown zillions of times commercially, but this was the first time I've done so in a tiny tin can while strapped to a near-stranger wearing a parachute. It made a hugely different experience. Watching the ground drop away from me was particularly surreal, knowing that I was about to jump out of the tin can and plummet back toward the same ground!
Taking Off

Taking Off
We had to climb to a height of about 11,000 feet. It took awhile. I looked at the view and tried to relax. I talked to the videographer for awhile, talked to my tandem partner Chris, and occasionally exchanged excited/freaked out grins with Curly. My emotions were a whirl, I was so excited, yet nervous, and I couldn't believe I was about to do this! Chris spent some time going over what we were going to do, until I was quite sure I knew what to expect.

Eventually, we hit altitude. The "door" to the plane was nothing more than a window that slid in a track above our heads. When it opened, the wind came roaring in, and the open sky was less than 12 inches away from my leg. I could feel our speed, and 11,000 feet below me was the earth. I don't even have words to describe that feeling, my chest felt like it was going to explode! This was the moment. It was time to turn toward the door and hang my legs out.

Chris and I slid to the door and sat on the edge. I was strapped securely to him, and he did most of the maneuvering. Eventually I was sitting on his legs, looking down at the ground, and he was sitting on the edge of the door. No part of my body was in the plane any longer; I was only still there because I was strapped to Chris.

I crossed my arms in front of my chest, hooking my thumbs in my harness like I'd been told. We did a three-count, just like we'd practiced. We leaned forward... Ready, then back... Set!, then... Arch!

I thrust my hips forward and arched my back, while Chris did the same.

Coming Down

Coming Down

We jumped.

Free-fall. I could feel myself dropping, down and left, and the plane went shooting up and away from us. The wind was incredibly strong, and I could barely breathe. Fortunately I was wearing goggles that fully covered my eyes, so I could see fine. I was heading toward the ground, belly-first, my back arched. I looked around, taking in the view. I was surprised to find that it was challenging to even move my head, because the wind was so strong.

I felt Chris tap my shoulders: it was time to put both arms straight out. I was free-falling at around 150 MPH, still horizontal with the ground, belly-first, the powerful wind pushing my arms and legs so hard that I couldn't lower them if I wanted to. It was exhilerating and giddy. Chris had a small camera strapped to his wrist, and I grinned at it then continued to look around, smiling into the wind. The view was fascinating, and the fall was amazing. The only hard part was figuring out how to breathe in such a fierce wind.

Suddenly I felt a jerking sensation on my shoulders, I swung upright, and my fall abruptly slowed. I looked up to see a bright yellow parachute unfurling above us. The rush of the wind stopped, we bounced around a bit, then we were floating in complete peace and silence. "How do you feel?", asked Chris.

"Wow!" I was somewhere inbetween speechless and babbling incoherently. "That was amazing! I feel great!"

The difference in sensation once the chute opened was unbelievable. It had been very cold up in the plane, and during freefall it had been cold and windy. Now we were just floating in the sky, and it was peaceful, and so warm! We drifted our way down through the sunshine, the only two people in the world. I relaxed and enjoyed the view for awhile, then I asked Chris, "Let's go for a spin!"

With my encouragement, he turned the parachute so that we started swinging in a circle underneath it. Then we swung around the other way. It was so fun! It felt great, not the least bit dizzy or anything.

All too soon, it was over. The ground came rushing up to meet us, and I pulled my feel up high. I let Chris take care of the landing. We were coming in a little faster than he'd expected, and when his feet hit the ground he kicked up a ton of dirt and grass into our faces. We sat down, and the ride was over.

I collapsed against him, laughing. We'd done it! I'd just jumped out of a plane! I'd just gone skydiving!

He unstrapped me, and I jumped up to go see Curly. She also landed successfully, and we hugged each other laughing. We were no longer parachuting virgins, we'd lost our virginity together! We were both so hyped up and excited, we could barely stop talking!

There was only one bummer about the experience: there was a technical problem with the video camera that Chris was carrying, so I didn't end up getting a video of my First Jump. I'm very disappointed of course, but I'm trying not to dwell on it too much. After all, if you have a technical issue when jumping out of an airplane, and the only thing wrong is that you didn't get a video tape of the experience, then things are really pretty okay!

A couple of us had planned on going again today (wednesday), so I could try another jump and get a good video this time. Unfortunately the weather and the pilot situation conspired against me, and we weren't able to go today. Again, a disappointment -- but at least I had a great experience yesterday. I have some decent photos, and it was a great time!

I'll definitely go again sometime, though I don't know when. It was awesome!
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