Archive for June 20th, 2010


Done the Dive

on June 20, 2010 in Misc 2 Comments »

skydiving-sydney

I went skydiving today.  FINALLY.

You know how you’ve always wanted to try something, but you never have the extra money and there are always necessities to pay for, so you keep putting off the things you want to do?  Year after year, you put them off.

That’s how it was with me and skydiving (among other things).  It’s seems I’ve never had the $200 for a beginner’ tandem jump.  You have to admit, that’s an awful lot of money to pay for a five minute thrill.

But since I’ve got this Layla plan going I am REQUIRED to do some thrilling stuff within a set amount of time.  That means I simply must spend money on a few sport luxuries when I really should be squirreling it away or buying something I need.

Besides, as you know from this blog a group of my friends wanted to jump.  That’s why one of them who lives out of state scheduled a big group jump hug for the week when she would be back in Colorado and we could all do it together.

Thus the timing of friends is the second reason why I found myself this morning, at long last, suited up and riding on a flatbed truck from a hangar out to a waiting plane.  My tandem jumper was a tall, strong man (that made me happy) who has done – get this – 10,000 jumps!  He started years ago in college and never stopped.  Lucky guy.

We went up to 12,000 feet.   We were jumping in the countryside outside Longmont, which isn’t far from Boulder and is close to the mountains, so the view was spectacular.  Over green fields with the snow-covered Rockies as a backdrop – that’s just the kind of scenery you want to jump into.

freefall_clouds

But strictly speaking, I didn’t jump.  It was a small plane and when the door is opened you’re supposed to kneel right on the open edge, otherwise you’ll hit your head on the ledge above you.  So what I did, thanks to the movements of my enthusiastic tandem partner who was strapped to my body, was merely to tip gently out of the plane into…

FREEZING COLD!

Oh my God it was so COLD!  Sure, the temperature on the ground was in the eighties and folks were walking around in shorts and t-shirts.  But at 12,000 feet we were well above the clouds and when my exposed face and hands hit that open air at – oh, I dunno, let’s say 100 miles an hour and accelerating – I almost screamed in shock.  And let me tell you, those flights suits are mighty flimsy when it comes to warmth, hence in about 10 seconds I was feeling like an idiot for not wearing long woolen underwear.

The freefall was supposed to last about 50 seconds, but it seemed over in a fraction of the time.  That’s why I was surprised when my wonderfully experienced Manly Man partner pulled the cord.  Instead of the jolt I had been expecting when the chute opened, I instead only found myself suddenly and peacefully floating well above the clouds.  And closer and closer to those clouds that we were NOT supposed to go through according to some skydiving law or policy or whatever.  But when those suckers are moving fast and the hole in them is closing, you may not have a whole lotta choice.

flying man

By this time Manly Man had given me the chute controls and was telling me how to go fast, slow down, turn right and left.  What’s wild is that when you go right or left it’s in three dimensions instead of the earthly two, hence you bank at a gloriously tilted angle with your lower body lifting sideway out from under you.

Anyway, with lots of masculine help I was banking right and left.  But the clouds kept moving and we ended up going through the edge of one anyway.  It was freaky – white FREEZING mist that makes you blind to everything but whiteness until you come out underneath it.  But I loved the experience.  I had just floated through a cloud.  If I hadn’t been a frozen icicle by then I would have considered the moment to be very romantic.

Once we were in the clear again, Manly Man told me we were heading for a circle on the ground.  It wasn’t that large — maybe thirty feet in diameter and covered in gravel.  But the great thing about chutes is, you can float along while steering them toward targets even smaller than that.

We landed really pretty softly within that circle, legs lifted so that our scooting feet and butts landed first.  Since my butt is the one part of my body that can take just about anything, I landed completely unharmed and was already defrosting.

So that’s it.  I done the deed and enjoyed myself.  And assuming there is a next time (money is the only barrier) I’ll do a solo jump and really have a blast.

And I’ll be wearing my warmest winter clothes.