My cousin and I get together a few times a year to have some fun. Our latest idea was to jump out of a plane.
We started by booking a spot with skydiveFargo. Upon arriving at their hangar at the airport we started by signing a lot of waivers. Next we watched a safety video. At this point it was starting to get real and our tandem jumper came out to talk to us. He informed us that there wasn’t enough visibility currently to jump. We waited and he told us to be ready as soon as he gets a call.
We couldn’t decide who would jump first since we both wanted to. We decided to settle it with a game of cribbage. I lost and would be going second. I have a horrible record in cribbage against him. I think I’m going to start suggesting a different game in the near future. Our tandem jumper came in and told us its time.
We both headed to the prep area and got dressed in our jump suits. He went over all of the safety measures and instructed us on what we would be doing. I had only one question for him: What if he had a heart attack or became unconscious during the jump? He tried to assure me that he had a flawless physical recently and that wouldn’t happen, but I wanted to know what to do just in case. It turns out the parachute has an altitude indicator that automatically deploys the chute in a situation that the tandem jumper is unable to. I wasn’t really that concerned about this, but rather just curious.
My cousin headed up and I laid on my back on the grass waiting for him to come down. After about 15-20 minutes I heard a loud clap of the chute opening and saw him heading down. The nerves were really kicking in now because my time would be here in a few minutes. He landed safely and was pumped and a few high fives ensued.
We both headed back to the hangar and I hopped in the plane. The Cessna 210 was gutted in the inside and fit 4 people and the pilot. The yellow plane was adorned with a mustache. He turned onto the runway and pulled back on the throttle. The light weight of the gutted plane had some serious juice and one could really feel the acceleration. We took off quickly and climbed skyward. After breaking through the top of the clouds everything on the ground looked tiny. I asked if we were almost at our intended altitude of 12,500 ft. The pilot chuckled because we had about 7000 ft to go! That gave me a better perspective of how far you really fall when skydiving.
It was time! I still have goosebumps talking about these exciting few minutes. The pilot yelled door and one of the jumpers slid open the door. It got incredibly loud as we cruised at 120 mph. The first two solo jumpers went and that only left myself and the tandem jumper. He pointed towards the door and we made the awkward shimmy of two full grown men strapped together. He tapped my left leg which meant I need to put my left leg on the jump platform outside the plane. He matched it with his left leg. He tapped my right leg and I put that leg out as well. He matched it. He yelled we’re going on three. He shouted 1..2..He lied. We went on 2. That is smart on his part because it is pretty natural to resist on 3.
I’m not sure how long we accelerated for, but it felt like a long time (30 seconds or so). It was an incredible feeling. The only way I have been able to describe it is the feeling you get on a rollercoaster, but on steroids and sustained for much longer. Quite a few people have asked me what I was thinking during the free fall. I honestly had a perfectly clear mind without a thought in it. So much stimuli is occurring that there isn’t space in your mind for fear.
After we hit a low enough altitude he pulled the chute. You rapidly slow down and definitely feel the straps that are on each side of your groin. Be careful about placement of those straps if you know what I mean. At this point he needs to lower me so that he can fly the chute down. This means two straps get undone which drops me several inches. It is a sudden drop that is a bit unnerving. The view from this high is incredible and I thought the exciting part was over. He asked if I wanted to do some corkscrews. Yes please! He gave me one of the controls and told me to pull really hard. I was nervous to pull it too hard, but it got us slowly spiraling and dropping more rapidly. He grabbed the handle and pulled it much harder. After 3 rotations my legs felt incredibly heavy and my head started to tip forward. I almost passed out and he stopped the rotations. That was almost as much fun as the free fall portion. A couple minutes later the ground was getting much closer and he gently landed us on the field. My cousin ran up and more high fives were delivered.
If you’ve never tried skydiving I highly recommend it!
What I learned skydiving
- Do your first jump as a tandem (there really shouldn’t be another option)
- Free fall is an incredible feeling
- Not sure of the exact terminology, but spiraling with the chute open is also an incredible feeling
- Planes with mustaches are always more fun
- SkydiveFargo is a great operation. Very professional and great experience overall
- No more cribbage games to decide things with my cousin. My record is horrible