Folks I am not, by nature a sitter. Many people have thought I was very strange to take a week’s vacation and cycle the Oregon coast. Or take another week and spend it on a glacier in Denali National Park refining my mountaineering skills.
Even when Michelle and I went to Boston and to Key West, we spent much of the vacation walking all over the place. I like to see stuff, do things, and fit as much into a vacation as I can. Michelle says I just don’t relax well.
I can sit for hours and read. To me that is doing something, but I have never been a sit on a beach kind of guy.
For the same reasons, I like things that get the adrenalin pumping. So years ago, when Dave emailed me and asked if I wanted to do something we had never done before, I was ALL over it!
He wanted to know if I wanted to go skydiving. Now, he wasn’t talking about tandem jumps, strapped to someone who does all the work. Or static line jumping, where the minute you jump, the chute opens without assistance from you.
Nope, he was talking accelerated free fall! Turns out he had cousins that were professional skydivers (one even helped with the Redbull supersonic jump and I believe (Dave
will correct corrected me) one was in the latest Bond flick in wing suits! the instructors were all in the Ironman III movie, as the people who were sucked out of the jet. They had to wear chutes under their street clothes. They offered a plan where you jumped untethered, but with 2 other experienced instructors at the same time. The flight suit we wore had multiple places to grip and hold on to.
We would jump, and free fall for 7-8000 feet, then, at the correct altitude, we would pull the cord! They would be there with us whole time, and if we screwed up, they would grab the suit and then pull the cord for us.
My response? “OH HELL YEAH!!!”
He and I talked about nothing else for weeks afterwards.
The day of the jump came, and he came up to me and said he had just found out his life insurance through work did NOT cover sky diving. The man had 2 sets of twins under 5 at the time. He asked what I would do.
“Shoot, I would jump, but I am NOT that smart a man!” I said, but this has to be your call. Well to fast forward, since it was his family doing the lessons and the jump, he went for it!
We spent the morning on piano dollies, lying on our stomachs learning how to move our arms while falling. We learned to move one in the complete opposite direction of the other. This kept you from going into a spin!
We also learned the mantra at the door of the plan before jumping. We would be there, hands above us, one inside and one out. Then we would say “Up, Down, In, Out PROP” The whole while, moving our bodies to what we were saying. When we squatted down, we first had our heads in the plan, then out where we spotted the prop (A good thing to see!) then stepped out!
Confession time, I NEVER got the step out part right. I kept arching my back and throwing my head backwards. It was supposed to be a simple step out… There was even some talk of not letting me go, but in the end they relented.
In we climbed into the plane (we finally got clear weather) and we took off! I was first to go! I was in the door, did the mantra, all the movements, and in the end…. I screwed up!
Notice I am upside down here… (I’m in the white) THAT is bad. But is also why we jumped with someone! They got me turned around and belly down then let me go!
It was a BLAST!!! I don’t remember much but the wind and watching the altimeter. At 5500 feet, I waived them off (we jumped at 13,000) and pulled the cord! MIGAWD that hurt! It was a bigger jolt than any car accident I have ever had! It felt like I was being pulled back to the plane by my shoulders!
But then, it was sightseeing time! I could see forever. They were spotting me down below, and telling me what to do via walkie-talkie. They brought me in for a perfect landing!
What about Dave? Well the plane had to circle, but he too made the jump. His exit was flawless (I saw the video) but he tumbled on the landing. I call us even!
Yep, we are both earned our advanced free fall certificate! And haven’t jumped since! (we may have to talk about soon.)
I did make one mistake. I forgot to let my mom know that I was going to do this. She didn’t find out till years later when she saw the pictures on Facebook! Folks, you are NEVER too old to get in trouble with your mom…