Saturday, June 18, 2016

That time I jumped out of a perfectly good airplane... (My Skydiving Recap)

A couple of month ago, my dad had mentioned that he wanted to go skydiving for Father's day and asked if anyone would do it with him. I told him I would, (half joking, half serious) and forgot all about it. Two weeks ago he asked again. Again, I told him I would go with him (still not thinking it would really happen) and no less than an hour later, he told me we had appointments for 8am two Saturdays from then.
A bit of history... I love doing extreme things. I've been on every rollercoaster in Florida, I've gone parasailing, done two of the skycoasters in Orlando (you know, the ones where you are hoisted up 350 feet and then have to pull your own cord to drop down)  & even been hang-gliding (hindsight; dumbest decision ever). I have always wanted to go skydiving and always figured I would at some point, but of course after having Abigail, life meant just a bit more and I put it out of my mind.
For the past two weeks I really went back and forth about doing it. I was absolutely petrified to do it and the thought of jumping consumed my every thought for two whole weeks. The thing that really solidified the decision to jump was thinking about the 49 people who were killed last week who may have wanted to go skydiving and never got the chance. Life is just way too short to let fear stop you from doing something. So I did it.

At 8am Saturday morning, we walked into Skydive Deland to check in for our jump. We signed waivers (aka, our lives away) and sat to watch a very comical video that seemed to have been recorded in 1980. From there, we were sent outside to wait until our names were called, which seemed like took an eternity, but was maybe 5 minutes. We were brought into a 'classroom' where we met our tandem partner (& videographer)  and got dressed in our jumpsuits and harnesses. When we walked into the room, and our instructors immediately asked if this was our first time. When I responded yes and they could see how nervous I was, my (soon to be) instructor looked at me and said 'you're coming with me & we are going to be just fine'. That instantly made me feel better. While we were getting suited up, my instructor, Manny, explained how things were going to work while we were up in the plane and getting ready to jump. He made sure to tell me that it was perfectly ok if I forgot everything he said, and that we would be just fine no matter what.
About 10 minutes went by before we were escorted out to the designated area where there planes picked us up. We took some photos and headed onto the plane.


There was some sort of Skydiving competition happening the same day, so we were in a (bigger than I thought it would be) plane filled with about 20 people. We decided that I would jump first (after all of the competitors) so I was front and center for the plane ride up. We were in the plane for about 15 minutes and felt completely safe the whole time (my logic was... if the plane crashed, we had parachutes on, so I'm good!). When we got to about 10,000 feet my instructor starting hooking and latching things to make it so we were basically the same person. Tandem skydiving means you get all up in each others business!
I will say, skydivers are SO NICE! The competitors in front of us knew how nervous I was and before they all jumped out, made sure to tell me it was going to be the best experience of my life and included me in their own little skydiving handshake!

Moving on (sorry if this is all over the place, my brain is still in the clouds)... once all the competitors were out, it was my turn. My instructor told me to scoot onto the ground (remember, we are connected at this point) and walk my legs to the open door of the plane. I remember not being nervous at all, which is totally bizarre, but I think at that point, I just wanted to get it over with. My videographer went out of the plane first and kind of stood on the wheel while I got situated. Once my feet were out of the plane and I looked down, Manny saw that I kind of freaked and told me to look back behind me to my dad and brother, which produced this gem of a picture below... This was mid screaming 'BYE!'...

And just like that, we were freefalling out of the plane! He flipped me once (which I wasn't expecting but wouldn't have wanted it any other way!) and my face pretty much says it all. It was the most surreal thing I have ever experienced. We freefell for about 60 seconds where I really focused on taking the feeling in. My videographer was in front of me for most of the time, waving, high-fiving and just making it so much fun!
Something I didn't expect; it was really hard to breathe for me during the freefall. I think it had a lot to do with having my mouth open the whole time, and all of the cold air blasting my face, but I had a hard time catching my breath. I'm still feeling the effects of it as I write this and think I may have a wind burnt throat for a couple of days.

Once the parachute opened (which doesn't jerk you as much as you see in movies), I remember asking Manny about 4 times, 'are we ok? are we ok?' and he said 'look up!' and I could see us under the big, beautiful canopy.
I was actually very nervous for the parachuting process because I hated parasailing, but this was so, so much different, in the best way possible.
We soared through the clouds, we practiced my landing, Manny even let me hold the chute handles to steer!
Fun fact: almost immediately after your chute opens, your instructor starts 'adjusting' some of the hooks on your harness to give you more room to breathe. When Manny started doing it to me and told me what he was doing, I responded with 'No, no, I don't need to breathe, keep me hooked!'. He of course still unhooked me and I was fine, but I think that might have been the funniest part of his day.
The only other bother I had with my jump (besides the trouble breathing) was that as soon as the chute opened, I realized how badly my ears were blocked. I told Manny that my ears KILLED and he told me to plug my nose and push, which definitely helped, but I'm still dealing with some pretty bad ear pain a day later.
Manny and I, after I thanked him one million times for getting me on the ground in one piece.
The first thing the videographer asked me when we landed was if I would do it again and I responded with the quickest 'YES' ever. I seriously would. There is nothing, and I truly mean NOTHING that free falling from the sky at 120mph, 14,000 feet up in the sky can compare too.

My advice for anyone who has ever thought about jumping... please do it! You will NOT regret it. It's hard to put into words, but there is nothing more powerful than flying through the sky. Afraid of heights? As weird as this sounds, heights has nothing to do with it. You are so far off of the ground, it doesn't even register, I promise!
To watch my full video, click here :)
Happy Father's Day, Dad! Thank you for forcing me to do this! Best day EVER!

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