Prior to my experience, I was good at talking
the big talk. I would tell people, “Yeah, I would jump.” Then
the excuses would come. “I couldn’t because I didn’t
have the time” was my favorite excuse. Then it happened,
a gift certificate “good for one jump” as a Christmas
present from my cousin to my sister. I couldn’t chicken
out now. I couldn’t be the only one not to do it.
When I called a week in advance to reserve a time and date
for three people to jump, my voice cracked, just a little.
week progressed, my knees got weaker and my stomach got queasier
every day. What was I getting myself into? Three days, two
days, one day, then Saturday, the day of the jump.
I wake up, put on my best game face and try to carry on as
if it were any other morning.
I can do this,” I tell myself. “People do it all
Inside I am terrified. Being scared of heights doesn’t
help the situation, and the fact that I am terrified of roller
coasters makes me all the more worried. I want to back out, and
yet don’t want to admit defeat. “I can do this.”
The drive out to Dillingham Field goes by too quickly. We arrive
at our drop zone, and I am not ready. We check-in and are told
to watch a video about the risks of skydiving. All I hear is “… statistics
show that only three out of every 100,000 jumps result in a fatal
accident.” Did I just hear the word “fatal”?
Don’t worry”, says the receptionist. “We
take every precaution to ensure a safe jump. If I can just
read this waiver and initial here, here, here, here.”
Four pages of signing my life away, and the contract contains “DANGER” watermarks
on every page. “What am I getting myself into?” I
take a deep breath and sign, putting my life in the hands of “Skydive
As we sit out on the deck waiting, I watch others gear up
for the plunge. It seems innocent enough, everyone’s smiling,
everyone looks like they are having fun.
I watch as the first set of jumpers glide gracefully down
as if they are birds that belong in the sky. As they come
land, one of them takes a wrong turn and the graceful glide
turns into a fall in the neighboring polo field. The terror
Is that normal?” I ask the closest instructor. He ignores
me and gets into the truck to retrieve the strayed jumper. “What
am I getting into?”
Our names get called. My cousin and I are going up together,
and my sister has to wait for the next plane.
They gear us up and drive us out to the field where the
plane pulls up, a five-passenger maximum capacity, old,
plane. Just the look of the plane scares me. It doesn’t
look safe. A hook-and-eye type latch holds up the door, and my
tandem jump instructor tells me to be careful because sometimes
it gives and the door falls on your head. “What kind
of plane is this?”
I crawl in anyway and am cramped behind the pilot. My knees
are bent, because there is not enough space to straighten
I am at the point where I can no longer comprehend my emotions.
Am I scared, am I terrified, am I excited? I don’t know.
A whirlwind of emotions rush through me, including again, the
dreaded idea that something could go seriously wrong.
I push it all aside and stare out my tiny window. The view
is miraculous. I couldn’t have been a more beautiful
The plane circles around a few times to reach the jump
height. My instructor asks me if I am ready. Is it too
late to say
no? As she fastens her harness to mine, she runs through
some instructions: “Cross
your arms and plant your foot on the bar outside the door.
When I tap your shoulder, we are going to fall. Arch your back,
when I tap you again, extend your arms.”
Wait, did I get all that? How I am supposed to remember
anything when I am staring out the window at the world
My cousin goes first. He makes it look so easy, and then
On bended knees we crawl up to the door. Cross arms, I
you foot,” she says. I stick my foot out the window and
the rush of the wind blows it back into the plane.
Plant your foot!” Again I fail. She just leans out and
falls anyway, taking me with her. I’m falling and I am
falling fast. She taps me again to remind me to arch my back
and extend my arms.
Within the first 10 seconds we accelerate to 130 MPH.
This is a thrill of a lifetime.
We rush blind through clouds and then suddenly the world
opens up a view of the ground below.
ith the rush, the
wind, the scenery, it’s an unimaginable sensation. It’s
scary yet exciting, a natural high, indescribable.
Then, I felt a slight tug as the chute opens. We glided
as I soaked up the sights; you could see all of North
Shore, the mountains
and the ocean running out to the horizon. As we got
closer, dots turned into surfers, picnickers, horseback
acting as my own personal cheering section.
The landing was easy and the ride was over. The experience,
however, will stick with me for a lifetime.