When I first started this endeavor I asked my friends for suggestions for what to put on my list. One suggestion I got repeatedly was skydiving. My response each time was, “No way in hell am I jumping out of a perfectly functioning aircraft.” This went on for the first 2-3 months of the year. Eventually, it occurred to me that if the only reason I was refusing to go skydiving was because I was scared of it, then that wasn’t a very good excuse.
So I started looking into it. It turns out that jumping out of an airplane is a lot safer than I thought. For tandem jumps, there is only 1 death in 540,000 jumps. Considering you have a 1 in 6,000 chance of dying in a car crash, I thought these were good odds. When told my friend Kathryn these stats she responded, “statistics are only for people who want to justify doing stupid things.” Well, I’ve never needed help convincing myself to do something stupid.
I decided that if I was going to jump out of a plane I wanted to do it on a special occasion so made it this year’s birthday present to myself. For my big day, I went to go see the good folks at Sky Dive East Tennessee. (If you don’t want to read my play-by-play of what happened, you can jump to the video of my jump below.) The first thing I did when I got there was watch a safety video, which somehow managed not to scare me despite discussing all of the risks involved with jumping out of an airplane. I was then fitted with a jumpsuit and harness and was ready to go.
Let me start by saying that the plane we were in was approximately the size of my car. There were five of us in there, my instructor, the videographer, another diver, the pilot, and me. It wasn’t possible to fit anyone else in there.
It wasn’t until we took off that I remembered how much I hate airplanes. I don’t need to be drugged to get on them, but I am pretty miserable the entire time I’m up in the air. It struck me around 500 feet off the ground that I spent so much time thinking about the jump that I forgot that I had to be in an airplane to get up there.
As the plane ascended and maneuvered through the clouds, I held on for dear life waiting to be able to jump. I was looking forward getting out one way or another. At the peak of my misery, I hear my instructor say “OK, we are at 2,000 feet . . . Only 9,000 to go.” I closed my eyes and clenched harder onto the sides of the plane.
Around 6,000-7,000 feet I started to feel more comfortable. As we neared altitude it was time to be harnessed to my instructor. As we shifted positions in the plane, all I could think was “please let me jump out of here as soon as possible.” I was convinced that moving was going to tip over the plane. I should note that I had no reason to actually be concerned. Our pilot was really awesome . . . I’m just a giant a scaredy cat who is terrified of airplanes.
Finally, the door opened and all I could think was:
Nothing can prepare you for the sound of the air rushing by you, the air pressure change, or just how cold it is two miles above the Earth. These things combined with the body’s automatic response of wanting to do anything other than jump out of a plane was completely overwhelming. I was absolutely terrified.
I went from not being stressed at all about the jump (and actually looking forward to it) to suddenly wanting to immediately be back on the ground the old fashioned way.
The other diver jumped before we got out of the plane. Please look at his face. It is the look of madness.
Then it was my turn. All I could do was trust Tim (who has done over 3,000 jumps in his life) and pray.
We scooted over to the door and each put one foot on the plane’s wing. Being short, I struggled to get my foot out in the proper position.
I hear Tim shout, “1, 2, 3, Arch!” And we were suddenly flying through the air at 120 miles per hour.
Somehow we flipped upside down during the beginning of the free fall and I look up to see the plane and clouds above us. Which, I suppose, is better than the ground rushing up at us from below.
Words cannot describe what it is like to fly through the air. Well, there are words, but I am pretty sure they are all expletives. I look like I am smiling here, but I am really just counting the seconds until the parachute deployed.
I felt absolutely safe and secure despite being thousands of feet in the air. We had approximately a 5 minute float down, during which Tim pointed out the area mountains, lakes, and nearby towns. We even did a few turns which beat any amusement ride you could possibly find.
Skydiving was an amazing rush. While I am not a fan of planes and was absolutely terrified when it came time to get out of the plane, I absolutely loved the experience. Now that I know what to expect, I want to try jumping again. When I do, I’ll go back to Sky Dive East Tennessee, and hopefully they won’t have to pry my fingers loose from the airplane next time.
“Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.” – Hellen Keller, The Open Door
Last week my blog post on Archery & Skeet Shooting was featured on Instapundit. During the instalanche, someone from the show Cam & Co on NRA News spotted my blog. They, probably against their better judgment, invited me to be a guest on their show to talk about my New Things adventures.
At first I was apprehensive about going on the air. Frankly, I’m not that interesting and I don’t have much to say. I started polling my friends about whether I should do it.
Friend: What are you going to say?
Me: As in will I do it?
Friend: Oh it’s a foregone conclusion that you’ll do it. I just want to know what you’ll say in the interview.
However, not all of my friends were so certain. They basically fell into two camps. “OMG! New Thing! You have to do it!” and “You absolutely should not do it. Guns are way too controversial.”
But, I decided to take a leap of faith and go for it . . . and I am glad I did. I definitely learned the value of having a good interviewer, because Cam Edwards knew exactly what to ask to make me sound a lot more interesting than I am. I’m also a little proud of myself for getting the guts to go on the show. I have a pretty big fear of public speaking (more so than jumping out of planes), so just talking to them was a huge accomplishment for me.
You can watch my interview here: