Monday, June 24, 2013

Diving from the Sky

Cessna 182 - notice the step above the wheel
Rebecca and me, sporting cool pants
It's something that I've always wanted to do. I'm not sure why really, because it's kind of terrifying. There is room for all kinds of analysis here, and I will leave that up to you. Why is it that we like to scare ourselves?

It has been on my bucket list for years and years. Skydiving. Just once.  Kedra was firmly opposed when our kids were little. Something about raising the kids alone, etc. Well, now the kids are old enough to fend for themselves. Yes, that is a Christmas Vacation reference.

As I opened up my Christmas presents a few months ago, I received a nice certificate that gave me an opportunity to do the dive. Kedra found a deal online. (Jokes go here.) Rebecca, too, wanted to dive, and she saw an opportunity with her recent 20th birthday to get in on the deal. Kedra worked the phones and the Internet and the deal was done. Saturday June 22 was the day, and a little airport outside of Columbus, OH was the place.

Friday we made a leisurely trip over to Ohio, taking the scenic route. We checked in a hotel and went to eat. As we were eating, Rebecca looked up with a horrific look on her face, tears about to form. "I didn't bring my I.D." The diving company had warned over and over that no one could jump without a picture I.D.

Everyone's heart sank, along with some frustration arising. We brainstormed. Long story  short. Maddie went to our house and got Rebecca's I.D., waited for Lester to get off work, and then the two of them took off toward Ohio. Ben and Rebecca got in our car and headed toward Indiana, meeting somewhere outside of Indy. Yes, it was all crazy. Ben and Rebecca got back at 1 a.m. Lester and Maddie should get some kind of award.

We got up early Saturday morning, planning on leaving around 7 a.m. As I was waiting for everyone to load up, I opened my billfold to get my license out. Can you believe this? It wasn't there! My heart sank. Where was my license? I still don't know. It must be in TN, where I checked into a hotel a couple weeks ago. Replacing it is on my list this week.

Brainstorming started a second time, along with questions about Rebecca jumping without me. I had some cards, etc. but nothing that fit what the jump company required. I had Rebecca find some pictures of me on the Internet, from some newspaper articles I wrote that have my picture. Maybe that would work?

Once we got to the airport I was ready to plead my case. The folks were very friendly and we started the check-in procedure. Wouldn't you know it? They never asked for any I.D.! I was relieved of course, and then felt bad that four of my children spent hours driving across states to get Rebecca's. Best to let all those thoughts go.

It was a beautiful, still morning. A lady took out us to see our plane, explaining this particular plane was more thrilling because you have to climb out onto the step. Wow! We got all suited up and instructed in our fairly passive role. Taxi time! Takeoff! Climb, climb, climb to 10,000 feet above the ground!

Rebecca decided to go first. She was firmly strapped to her partner. They were tightly connected, and I watched them walk on their knees and place her right foot out the little door onto that little step. My heart was pounding. She got both feet out, and had both hands on the wing strut. The next thing I know, I hear a scream that fades off into the distance! Gone!

Oh wow! Now it's my turn. My guy quickly moved me along on my knees. One hand on the inside of the door, the other on the outside. I moved my right foot onto the step. It was hard, because we were going, I think, about 80 m.p.h. I got my right foot placed, and now my right hand moved out onto the strut. "Why am I doing this???" I was scared three quarters to death. My guide quickly had me move my left foot and hand outside of the plane. Both feet were on step and both hands on the strut. Heart pounding out my chest!

"Let go!!" I closed my eyes and felt this amazing sensation of flying off into the sky! I kept my eyes closed until I could get myself calmed down some. The air was very cool, and it was loud. Someone said we were falling at 120 m.p.h. After a few seconds I opened my eyes. We were looking straight down. It was amazing! We fell freely for 3,000 feet, so at around 7,000 feet my guide warned me and then opened the chute.

The chute opened, and it felt like we shot upwards like a rocket. It wasn't painful, but it was a little uncomfortable. Then everything changed. It got incredibly quiet and peaceful. What a feeling! We were floating down to earth at about 25 m.p.h. Rebecca had jumped out just a few seconds before me, and now our guides worked together to bring us fairly close, close enough to hear each other holler a question, "Are you doing OK?" Yes, and yes.

We had a few minutes of glorious drifting to the ground. I totally relaxed and enjoyed the view and experience. It was like nothing else I've ever done. The landing was interesting and exciting (see my heart rate). We came in pretty hard on our tails, which we were told would be the way it would happen. We landed just seconds apart. I got to watch Rebecca land, and then I made it in too.

It was a great experience. Here is some kind of funny data. Just for fun, I wore my Garmin to see what it would do. It made a fairly good map and recorded my heart rate. If you animate the map, notice how quickly the line down goes. Here is that data.

I love Rebecca and it was so nice to share this with her. Kedra is a wonderful woman to allow me to do this. Do it again? Not at my initiative. If someone else wants to go and needs someone to go with them, then I would consider that. Once was enough for me.


ironBill said...

Hey Allen, I was thinking of skydiving again, but I need someone to do it with me.

Jason Petty said...

Just read this and looked at your Garmin map. Awesome!!!