Sunday, August 15, 2021

Life list item #22: Skydive

For at least 15 years, this item has been on my list. My boyfriend Jason also had the ambition to skydive so once we got through the very restrictive times of the Covid-19 pandemic we booked our jumps with Skydive Tecumseh. 

Jason had been booked before, roughly two years ago and due to weather he was not able to jump at his scheduled time. Unable to get a weekend that worked, he got a refund and left the dream to later on. For his birthday in April 2021, I bought him certificate for a 14,000ft tandem jump and we looked out later into the summer to actually schedule our time. 

After months (well years actually) of anticipating and waiting we were about to enter a plane to jump  at 14,000ft above Napoleon, Michigan. 

When you tandem skydive, you are pretty much just along for the ride. Your tandem instructor is there to explain everything that is going to happen and what you will need to do. But, mostly they do everything. They are basically skydiving with a willing participant strapped to their chest. 

My tandem jumper was Scotti, a guy from Brazil. He was charismatic and lively and spoke with a thick accent that made me have to listen to him extremely closely. As he got me into my harness, he explained what exactly would happen. Of course this part is extremely important and it seems Skydive Tecumseh does a great job at making jumpers feel comfortable. 

When it was finally time to go myself, Jason, and his friend Temma, plus our three tandem jumpers got in the small plan that was made for about 10 passengers. We lined up in the rows, not side to side but front to back as our tandem jumpers would soon be attaching to us. The plane ride was one of my favorite parts, it still felt like there was control. It was a nice moment being next to Jason as we were having this adventure together. It was nice having Jason nearby, but a certain point all my focus was on Scotti and what he had to say and do. As much as I love my boyfriend, this new, strange man strapped to my back was MY WORLD right then! He held my life in his hands. 

When you are in the plane, there is pretty much no where to go but out, and the only way to get down is to jump. I'm sure if a person is clearly freaking out, they will gladly just fly you down. However, there's not tons of time and space to cower in a corner. 

Scotti had given me only two directives for our jump together. The first one was to dangle my feet outside the plane on the ledge then he would do the rest when it was time to exit. This is the moment I think I was most dreading. When you see the Earth below you, I was afraid this is when my mind would go crazy and want to pull back. NO CHANCE for that. Once my feet were out he had pushed his body weight forward and we came careening out of the plane. I was instructed earlier to put my head back and my legs bent between his. Our freefall was to be about 45 seconds, and I read that we were traveling at about 120 miles per hour. It felt like an eternity, and certainly felt like that speed.  It was absolutely freezing up there and barreling through the air didn't make it much warmer. I closed my eyes a few times, but was trying my best to keep them open so that I could see what we were dong. This 45 seconds was quite terrifying, not in a I'm going to splat on the ground  kind of way but, more of this is so loud, so fast, so cold, so intense kind of way. I couldn't really get my bearings or my wits about me so I just "held on" and hopped the chute would open soon. 

I knew when the chute opened we would be blasted back up into the sky and yes, that feeling was intense when it happened. Definitely yelled a few holy shits!! At this point it felt as if we were just hovering and the ground didn't seem to be getting closer to us very quickly. There were moments here I tried my best to relax, but it was still pretty freaky. It wasn't the fact that I was several thousands of feet of the ground it was just the movement of our bodies through the air.  When we were falling slowly it felt nice, then when Scotti would turn or steer us the speed would pick up and more holy shits would come out! 

I did get to see Jason in the air. Not close enough to make out his face or anything, but it was neat knowing he was falling not far away. The time it took us to fall the rest of the way was roughly five minutes. Scotti and I chatted a bit on the way down and he kept me informed about what would happen next with our landing. 

The landing was perfectly fine and I am pretty sure we landed on our feet. There's a few different good landings that can happen, and of course many bad ones. But, luckily ours was uneventful! 

The whole thing felt like being on all the roller-coasters I've even been on in my life, combined! I didn't exactly love all the sensations by body was going through, but being miles above the ground, floating through the air was indeed a rewarding experience.  I was asked a couple times what was my favorite part. It was hard to figure that out right away. I was extremely happy with the experience as a whole; being with Jason, being well taken care of by Skydive Tecumseh, the unique plane ride, the perfect weather. I'm ever so glad I got this item checked of my list. Jumping out of a plane is not an opportunity you get every day.