Have you ever done something risky and dangerous? So risky and dangerous that at the time it doesn’t cross your mind how crazy it is? That is exactly how I feel today, four days after jumping 14,000 feet out of a tiny airplane with no seats and a man strapped on to my back.
For our anniversary, my boyfriend took us skydiving in Lake Wales. When I initially told my friends about what we were going to do most of them reacted the same way, “That’s insane! If my boyfriend/husband/significant other asked me to go skydiving, I wouldn’t do it!”
Skydiving has always been on my bucket list but I’ve always been either too broke or too scared to go. Luckily there was a Groupon available and my boyfriend snatched it. Now I had no excuses.
The whole drive over there was nerve-racking. The craziest thing that’s ever happened to me was getting detained in a Detroit airport on a work trip for having pepper spray in my bag (that’s a story for another day). The fog on the highway was terrible thanks to the insane weather Florida has been experiencing so the thought of jumping out of an airplane with limited visibility was on the top 5 dumbest ideas I’ve ever had.
We finally got there and began signing our lives away upon our arrival. I’m not sure how many times I read this sentence, “This is an important legal document. By signing it, you are giving away important legal rights,” but I’m pretty sure I baby-barfed every single time. I initialed my name about 30 times and agreed that if I die, my family, friends, next of kin, creepy stalker, etc. cannot sue the airplane, airplane engine manufacturer, skydive center, skydive instructor, parachute maker, and so on and so forth.
Enter my instructor. He tells me his nickname is Baglock.
Bag lock: This malfunction occurs when the deployment bag is extracted from the main container, but fails to release the canopy within. The correct procedure to clear the malfunction is to cut away the main and deploy the reserve.
A little skydiving humor. Get it? Ha. Ha.
He went over the procedures with me and told me everything would be fine. He’s jumped out of a plane over 4,000 times and that day wouldn’t be any different.
Baglock: “Any questions?”
Me: “How many people have thrown up on you?”
Baglock: “11 out of over 4,000. I think that’s a good ratio.”
Before I knew it, I was inside the plane at 14,000 feet, getting ready to be number 12 on his throw up list. Baglock strapped his harness to mine and we began to inch our way to the door. I looked down and half my foot was sticking out of the plane. I closed my eyes and gave in.
Everyone asked if falling from an airplane gives you the same butterflies as riding a roller coaster for the first time. It’s not and it is really hard to explain what I went through to someone who has never done this.
Initially, my eyes were closed and we tumbled into the open air. I felt helpless, like I was falling and I couldn’t stop myself from doing so. I immediately threw my legs and head back since it is the proper position when tandem skydiving and opened my eyes.
Baglock: “That’s the airport! You see it? That’s Lake Kissimmee! There’s your boyfriend and his instructor!”
I couldn’t believe how wonderful everything looked. The fog had cleared up right before we went on the airplane and I couldn’t have asked for a more clear and beautiful day. That’s when I forgot I was falling at 120 mph. That’s when every fearful thought of our parachute not opening faded. I couldn’t stop smiling.
After one minute of free falling, our parachute was deployed and I was even allowed to steer for a bit. We practiced our landing while we were still in the air, but since we all know I’m awkward, you can safely assume that I didn’t gracefully land on my butt. Instead, I dragged my legs like a broken Raggedy Ann doll, laughing the whole time.
Four days later, I sit on my bed looking at pictures of our skydiving adventure and I can’t believe I did it. I never thought that I had the guts to do it. Then I get scared because I could’ve died for participating in such a dangerous activity. But then I laugh because I did it.
Basically, skydiving turned me into a bipolar maniac but I can’t wait to do it again! Skydiving has now officially been checked off of my bucket list. Many thanks to my boyfriend for making this possible and to my stomach for staying cool while being flung thousands of feet to the ground.