You think of a 65th birthday and things like a gold watch come to mind, a porch swing, or the grandkids coming over to see if you can manage to blow out the candles massed on a cake. Friend Cass saw things differently. She thought of the kinds of things that she had never done before and right there at the top of the list was a notion to jump out of an airplane – properly equipped, of course.
Recently she did exactly that, and unbruised, but slightly out of breath, she tells the story below. The selected photos are all the proof you need.
Now I know why it’s called a dive. Eagles may soar, but people dive. Plummet is an even better word, at a speed of 120 miles per hour! I was really looking forward to the experience and I didn’t think I was afraid. But as the moment neared, as we walked toward the plane, and then as the plane climbed higher and higher (to 13,000 feet) and finally, as we inched toward the door for our turn, I was definitely uncomfortable.
The moment of jumping out of the plane was pretty scary, especially since I had just watched a friend and her instructor exit the plane and very quickly drop from view. To be honest, I had expected a bit of glide action. I sound naive perhaps, but without that unrealistic expectation I may have never signed up for the adventure. But there’s one aha: I trust Life, therefore it is easier to go for the gusto that Life offers.
People have often said to me, “I would have to be pushed out of the plane.” In tandem skydiving, push is not an option. You are tightly attached to your instructor and he loves what he’s doing. So when he jumps, you have no choice.
The best part for me? After keeping my back arched, head back and legs bent, and putting my arms out in that sky dive pose at the right moment, it was the appearance of my instructor’s “thumbs up” signal in front of my face that cinched it. Then for the next 50 seconds, I pretty much endured the cold and buffeting (an understatement) wind and tried to look pretty and smile for the videographer dropping at the same speed in front of me. They say if you don’t want the skin on your face to flap, just smile. Right. My theory is they don’t want you to be grimacing on the video. They want all your friends to see you smiling in spite of the flapping skin, and then run to the nearest dive site to sign up for their own adventure.
I think I even closed my eyes for several seconds. So much for enjoying the view.
Then the parachute opened, I settled into my harness and the ride was much better. We did some maneuvers–spinning around in the air, and one called the roller coaster which leaves you free-falling under the canopy for a couple of seconds.
On that day there wasn’t much wind closer to the ground so our landing was like sliding into first base on our butts. I suppose that happens quite often. Because, if you look around at the people wearing jump suits — the instructors and videographers — most have big holes in the seats of their pants. No attempt has been made to stitch or patch them. It’s probably a badge of honor, or maybe it’s just common sense: If you slide on your bottom seven to 10 times a day, why bother with mending?
Bottom line: I did it!
Way to go, Cass! Would I like to join you next time? What? And get off the couch?