Monday, July 25, 2011

Could Result in Serious Injury or Death

I went skydiving. Finally!

I had a trip booked a year and a half ago that was canceled for wind. And then we never got around to re-booking. And then...hello, Groupon! Woo hoo! I rounded up a few likely takers and bought the deal for Desert Skydiving in Buckeye. Nothing like saving 50% on something I wanted to do anyway! Woo hoo!

The brave souls who joined me - Wayne, Nichole and Litte David:

The training is in 3 phases. First you watch a video.
The video tells you that skydiving could result in serious injury or death. Then it tells you that skydiving could result in serious injury or death. The phrase "serious injury or death" was used about 11 times in the video. Hmmm...I wonder if they are trying to tell me that skydiving could result in serious injury? Or maybe even death?

Then you learn some stuff from the instructor. Here we are learning some stuff.
He didn't mention injury or death.

The last training step is to learn what to do in the plane. Here is our little, tiny plane.
They taught us to rock forward, backward, forward...then fall. Sounds easy, but they also told us that most people forget or refuse to let go of the door. I was determined not to be a hanger-on.

Here we are heading to the potty last nervous pee.

Nichole and David went up first. The plane is so little that it can barely fit a pilot, cameraman, 2 jumpers and 2 instructors, so we had to take turns. Wayne and I waited on the ground for a long time. During this time, I did what the video suggested and noted the injuries and deaths that were reported in the latest issue of Skydiving Magazine. Probably not a great thing to read while you are waiting to jump, but I can say I went into it fully informed. I read about a 21 year old kid on his first jump. The instructor kept checking his altimeter to pull the cord at the right time. It appeared to be malfunctioning. The instructor finally decided to pull the back-up cord...about 2 seconds before the safety-chute opened. The two chutes tangled in each other and neither inflated. Splat. The kid paid extra for the videographer, who filmed the whole thing. I also read about 2 jumpers who got tangled in each other's parachutes. One resulted in serious injury, the other in death.

Finally we saw Nichole and David parachuting towards us. So awesome! They both landed safely, though David skidded on his butt a little bit.

Then it was time for Wayne and me to suit up and get in the plane. First of all, I would like to counter the anti-skydiving excuse of "there is no reason to jump out of a perfectly good plane" by telling you that this plane was nowhere near "perfectly good". It kept stalling on the drive to the taxiway. I seriously doubted its ability to fly. Jumping out would be a relief. I could definitely envision serious injury and death in this thing!

The plane was the most terrible experience ever. Like I said, there is barely enough room. I sat on the floor with my back against the pilot's seat (the only seat in the plane). My instructor sat, basically, in my lap. And on one of my ankles. It was painful. I was too short to see out of the windows so I couldn't gauge our distance. I thought we'd never get to the top. Then, when we got to the desired altitude, they opened the door. Oh holy bejeebus, it was cold! I had asked David and Nichole if it was too cold up there. They said not to wear a jacket because you'd be too scared to notice the cold. Not for me! I was too cold to notice being scared. It took forever for the photographer to jump and then for Wayne and his instructor to jump. I was sooooo cold that I would have jumped out of that plane without a parachute just to get out of the cold.

My instructor and I got into position. One of my feet was out of the plane on the step. It took me a few tries to get it on the step because the wind kept blowing it out of line. To make sure I wouldn't be a hanger-on, I chose to not even hold the door at all. I knew I could fling myself with all my strength out that door, but since I was tethered to an instructor that weighed twice as much as me, I still wouldn't fall out. So I didn't hold on and I let the instructor rock me forward, backward, forward...and a front dive! Woo hoo! It was hard to tell what way was up for a second. I don't think we flipped all the way over. And then I was upright. Freefalling. And I was still cold. It was pretty and exhilarating, but mostly I remember it being cold.

When we got low enough to pull the chute cord, it was warmer. It was more fun to have the chute up. I got to steer. If you pull down hard with your left hand, you turn left. The harder you pull, the tighter you turn. Whee! I was spinning us like crazy. Super fun!

We coasted for what seemed like a really long time. Finally, the ground was getting closer. I prepped to land. And we stuck it like Mary Lou Retton! Not even a bobble! I rock!
It was an awesome experience and I recommend it to anyone who's considering it. And I recommend wearing a parka, even if it is over 100' on the ground! I wish I had! :)


Craig Brandenburg said...

From what altitude did you jump?

Wayne said...

11,000 feet