Saturday, August 2, 2008

Skydiving: Bonnie's Story

I feel like every morning for the rest of my life I'm going to wake up and think, "I jumped out of an airplane."

This feeling will surely pass in a week or so, but our sky diving adventure will definitely remain as one of the most surreal experiences I've ever had. Stepping out onto the wing of plane, clinging to the strut with your feet dangling 4000 feet above the ground and then just letting go is not the kind of thing you have any context to understand. My brain does not know what to do with these sensations.

I thought I'd be scared. I actually wondered if I might chicken out. As it got closer and closer to go time, I couldn't believe I was actually doing this. This is crazy; normal people do not jump out of planes. They only do this in movies, right?

Surprisingly, it really wasn't scary. In fact, watching John jump was 10 times scarier than doing it myself. As the plane rose into the air, I ran through the protocols in my head. I kept waiting for the terror to come, but it never did. We'd drilled and drilled all day, I found that I really did feel ready. I knew what expect, I knew what I needed to do, and remarkably I had complete trust in my instructor (who would be pulling my shute for me).

As prepared as I felt when Waz asked "Are you ready to skydive?" I was, not in fact, prepared when he opened the door and shouted "Feet out and stop!!"

Waz told us it was windy. He did not stress that it is, in fact, so incredibly windy that a 140 pound woman will need her instructor to hold her down lest she blow away. When I tried to place my second foot on the step, I couldn't put it down. The wind was that strong. Waz grabbed my leg and pressed it to the step. I leaned close to the strut and grabbed hold as I'd practiced.

If it hadn't been for Waz's firm grip on my pack, I'm sure I'd have been straight out, flying alongside the plane like superman.
Waz let go and my feet flew off the step. I hung from the strut for moment, enjoying the ride. I thought one last time about my body position and let go. That was when things really deviated from the plan.

I thought I was arching, I really did. But the wind hit me and I started to tumble through the air. I did a complete backflip before my shute opened. I was convinced my lines would be tangled, and I stared for a few seconds in disbelief trying to locate the line twist that was sure to be there. It was good.

I started navigating my shute, spinning 360's and generally enjoying the ride to the ground. It seems like you're barely moving. That is until you're about 20 feet from the ground, then you realize you're actually coming in at a pretty good clip. I was ready to put on the brakes, though, and my landing was perfect. I was so excited by the perfect landing that I forgot to collapse my shute and it promptly knocked me to the ground, but that part was fun, too.

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