This past Saturday I celebrated Joel’s birthday by jumping/stepping/being pushed out of an airplane, free falling for nearly 10,000 feet, floating for 4,000 feet, and, finally, sliding to a stop (gracefully) on my backside. All while attached to a tall, handsome man who took care of the details (like making sure the parachute opened) so that I could enjoy every windblown moment without (generally) a care in the world.
I have been a SCUBA diver since I turned 12, and somehow this seemed like the other extreme. And I love birthdays. So,when Joel said, “I want to celebrate my 30th birthday by jumping out of a perfectly good plane,” of course I said, “Let’s go.” Only this time last November, when he actually turned 30, it was pretty darn cold. Both of us love warm/hot climates, and so the adventure was put off. October rolled around, we thought of the adventure again, and sighed up. The hour we were to leave for the airfield we got the call, “The plane has a maintenance problem.” Really? My travel schedule has been hard to work around these days, winter was coming, and I wanted to be a part of this adventure. But, it all worked out. On November 20, a perfect, 70 degree day with blue skies and scattered clouds,10 days shy of his 31st birthday, Joel and I jumped.
I thought the adrenaline would slow time down. Kind of like how time seems to stand still long enough to get out of the way of danger. Only it did not. The free fall was around 60 seconds, parachuting around 5 minutes. Really? I still do not believe it. I thought I would feel like I was dropping on a roller coaster or in an elevator. But no, at over 100 mph, the wind blowing against your body prevents that feeling? Really? Every part of it a fantastic new experience
The panoramic view was unbelievable. Land stretched as far as I could see. Small, light, fluffy clouds danced below, then around, then above me. A pair of eagles below me, then they soared with the wind to a place to which I could not return. It was kind of like a drift dive with a high current – the view was amazing, but once you passed a spot, there was no returning to it. The difference is that with this, the grandness of the land slowly eased away as the end, the landing, came into focus.
Laughter. Smiles. The glow of new adventure. Was it worth it? Definitely? Would I do it agin? Most assuredly, though I would hope for a new piece of land to see from on high. Is it my next hobby? Probably not; I like the ocean too much for that.
Here are a few quotes that Joel so graciously recorded from our adventure. Pictures taken by dear friend Elizabeth – another friend who loves adventure and celebration, and was willing to stay on land to document this grand occasion. (Joel is the orange parachute, I am the blue. First picture is of him, the second him landing, me flying in for the landing.)
“So you are going to channel your inner Peregrine?” -Elizabeth
Originally we’d paid for a 10k ft. tandem skydive. ”For $10 more we’ll take you to 14K and your 30 second free fall will be about a minute free fall.”Did she even have to ask?!
“As the plane began to climb and the two solo jumpers fell out at 4000k, I began to second guess the choice. Not that there’s a significant impact difference from a fall from 4k or 14k. But if FEELS higher.” -Joel
“The last time I was in a little plane like this, we buzzed the runway to clear the zebras off.” -Pam
“If I only had a nickel for every time I took off in a plane facing backwards…” -Joel
“Put your hair in a bun. Otherwise it’ll whip me in the face the whole way down.”- Jump Guide to Pam
“Pam, maybe your jump guide will be hot”- Elizabeth
“I’m going to my happy place” ”Centering my Chi” ”Confessing all sins” -joel
Door! “Scoot to the back of the plane. Kneel at the door. Grab your shoulder straps and don’t let go. Tilt your head to the right so you don’t smack me in the face. Arch your back and I’ll push us out.” -Jump Guide
Joel – thanks for choosing to celebrate your birthday in a grand way!