Wednesday dawned, bright and sunny. Shit. Looks like the weather wasn’t going to help a sister out. I was going to jump out of an airplane today. With Mavrick.
I spent the entire morning a ball of nerves, breaking out in a cold sweat every two minutes or so. Mavrick picked me up at 11:00 a.m., and off we went. It was a beautiful day. One of those rare fall gems with warm, buttery sunshine reflecting off of the swirling, changing leaves. It was a beautiful day. To possibly die.
We cruised down the Turnpike, heading to Alliance, OH, where we would be jumping with the fine people at Canton Air Sports. We got there way too fast. Now, I have never been skydiving. I don’t know what I was expecting when we pulled in. But it certainly wasn’t a clapboard hanger stuck in the middle of what appeared to be a giant farm. Like, Farmer Bob couldn’t decide what to plant there, so he said fuck it, let’s slap up a hanger and make people pay to get scared to death.
I then saw a plane, so small, so beat up, that there was no way it was the plane we were jumping out of. It was the plane we were jumping out of.
We were then introduced to Tom, one of the instructors. It was time for our training. I am using the term ‘training’ very,very loosely. It wasn’t training so much as five minutes of practicing our diving arch, and learning a few key tips. Such as don’t grab your instructors arms on the way down, because then they can’t deploy the shoot, and you both die. He ends with this:
“You can change your mind now and get a refund. You can change you’re mind in the plane, but then you just bought a very expensive airplane ride. Once that door opens, it’s too dangerous to get back inside. You’re going on a skydive.”
Okay! Time to suit up!
If that’s not sex-ay, well then, I just don’t know what is. They certainly don’t care that you may want to look GOOD while you stare your impending death in the face. Jerks. Turns out you don’t wear a helmet though, so that was good. And in hindsight, really, what is a helmet going to do if you go splat into the Earth at 120 mph? Make your brains easier to clean up?
It was time to get into the plane, or what I like to call The Flying Tin Death Trap. This was a two-seater, with five adults smashed into it. My head was practically in the pilot’s lap. I kept bumping my head off the steering wheel, or whatever it is you call that thing. The plane looked bad enough from the outside. From the inside, it was literally duct-taped together.
I believe this was by design. I believe that they did this to make this plane a plane you WANT to jump out of. We take off. We are climbing. My brain was going between absolute panic and an eerie calm. Did I mention I was jumping first? Mavrick, who was smooshed in behind the pilot’s seat, kept turning around and rubbing my leg. It seems I didn’t look so well. At about 8,000 feet, it was time to attach myself to Tom.
I awkwardly turn myself around and back up to him. Click, click. I’m locked in. I am just kneeling there, staring at the ground 10,000 feet below, and all I could think of was “Open the door. Open the door. Open the goddamned door so I can’t chicken out.”
He opened the door.
All I could think was “Close the door, close the door, close the goddamned door.” Too late. In a move that shocks me as a type this, I stepped out of the plane. I was standing outside of a goddamned airplane. Strapped to a complete stranger. He asked me if I was ready. Nope! Not at all! So don’t want to do this! Too late. Squeeeeee…..
Coupla things. Canton Air Sports people, you are fantastic, and I love Tom. But may I suggest you add a couple of key points to your ‘training’? To whit:
You may want to warn us that we spin around a few times before we stabilize. I was not expecting that, and, to be honest, it almost made me shit my pants.
You want also want to warn us that we feel a slight a tug as our body weight pulls us away from our instructor, but that is okay, we are still attached. Because I spent half that 35 second free fall convinced I was falling out of my goddamned harness.
Further, REALLY stress that grabbing the arm thing. Because I grabbed Tom’s arm, and came preeeeeety close to killing us both.
Other than this, it was fucking amazing. After the chute opened, I was able to relax and really enjoy myself. I cannot express in words how beautiful it was – the landscape was a cornucopia of color. I have never seen anything like it in my life. Tom brought us in for landing, and I laid there for a second.
I had done it. I jumped out of a plane. I, who am afraid to get up on a stepladder, hurled myself out of a plane miles above the ground. I felt like I could do anything. I wanted to do it again. And I probably will. Now that I know what to expect, I want to do it again. I want to enjoy the free fall, and not almost kill me and poor Tom.
I’m not sure what Mavrick and I will do as an encore. We are thinking maybe Formula One race classes. Until then, enjoy this little video of mindbling skydiving. You can totally see me grab his arm, too. Sorry, Tom!!