Okay, okay, my son tells me I’m too old to engage in such dangerous activities, but the truth of it is: I was never scared and it was the most awesome thing I’ve ever done. Why did I do it? It was on my bucket list, along with a hot air balloon ride (done, in Africa, over the Masi Mara), and bungee jumping. That last one I’m still thinking about, but might swap it for white water rafting.
So I asked my husband to pay for skydiving for my birthday, then had to lose some weight to make the weight limit. That took a while, so it was last Saturday when we finally drove down to Piedmont Skydiving in Salisbury, NC, along with some longtime friends, Billie and Dana Staats. I had to sign or initial pages and pages of release forms before I could get harnessed up, all the while listening to the people who had gone ahead of me – whoops and chattering away after they landed. At the last minute, Dana jumped in and decided to join me – what a surprise. So we jumped from the same plane.
My tandem partner was a big strong guy named Ian, who is British with strong Aussie accent from living Down Under for several years. We had to be sure to take off anything that might blow away (there’s a You Tube video of a lady who loses her false teeth in a jump), so I shed my glasses and earrings and emptied my pockets. After some brief instruction on how to place our feet on a ledge just outside the plane’s door before jumping, we took off and climbed to 10,000 feet.
Inside the plane, Dana and his tandem partner were seated on the floor to the side and front on the floor to the side and front where the passenger seat had been where the passenger seat had been removed, while Ian and I sat where the rear seat had been, facing back, with me seating between Ian’s legs.
It took a while to get to the right altitude and during that time, Ian attached my harness to his and spent a lot of time tightening the straps and checking the harness. Then it was time to go. Dana left first – I didn’t see him leave the plane because Ian was dragging me attached to him forward into the side space. With the door open the noise from the wind was deafening. I swung my legs out of the door, got one foot on the ledge and then, with a push off from Ian, we were tumbling and then straightened out into a free fall.
It was cold, and the wind rips away at your face, but what a wonderful feeling and beautiful views of North Carolina in all directions. All too soon, Ian inflated the parachute and we were surprisingly gently tugged up and then settled into a slow descent. What can I say? The adrenalin rush was intense (I got an immediate headache) and the harness cut in, but what an experience! A 360o view of the world and rather quiet – flying without wings.
All too soon we were coming in for a landing. Ian tightly circled us with my inner ear canals objecting, then we glided toward the ground very quickly. I was told to raise my legs and let Ian land, which we did amazingly smoothly, then we both skidded on our rears and came to a halt. WOW!
We celebrated out jumps with lunch at Porky’s in China Grove, a famous barbecue place. North Carolina is famous for its barbecue and I felt I deserved to go off the diet. I’ve been flying high for the last week, and it’s only now that all those endorphins, prolactine, cortisol, adrenaline, noradrenaline, and thyrotropin have dissipated. They make you feel great, and I can see why one could become a sky diving junkie. When Dana jumps again for his birthday in June, I’m planning to join him…so the diet will continue.
If I could figure out how to load the video, I would – but it’s a million plus KB!