When my college outing club sent me an email with the subject: We’re Going Skydiving!
I was first in line, crumpled cash in hand. I had never been before but was sure I’d love it. No fear of heights and always game for a thrill, I arrived at the small air strip at some horrid early hour (8am–ah college!) with a group of fellow classmates.
As our instructors went through the training procedures, clouds began to roll in. By the time we had taken turns awkwardly assuming the free fall position on the cushioned pedestal in front of the group, there was fog as thick as pea soup. No jumping today. I looked longingly at the parked Cessna 172 and turned for home.
Still eager to jump out of a perfectly good airplane, I made an appointment for a few days hence. This time, I had a jumpsuit on, goggles at the ready and was quivering with expectation. The jumper ahead of me came to a graceful landing in the grass and was giddy with expletives and hoots of triumph.
I was ready to chew through my harness I was so aflutter at this point, but the pilot shut the plane down and walked over to my instructor shaking his head. Uh oh.
The radio in the Cessna had malfunctioned so it would have to be grounded for the rest of the day, waiting on its mechanic.
I was inconsolable. All that build up, all the mental preparation, out the window for a second time?! Beginning to think maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all, I scheduled a third jump appointment with the reassuring instructor. He promised he’d take me “extra high” and the wait would be worth it. Wary, I returned a third time to the air strip. A crisp autumn day, not a cloud in the sky, I was carefully optimistic about maybe getting the chance to finally skydive, after a month of anticipation. Bingo! Winner! The plane was in perfect working order, the sky was cooperating and my scrambled egg breakfast was suddenly tumultuous in my stomach.
Without further ado, I wedged into the Cessna across from my tandem jump instructor. We taxied, smoothly ascended over the northeastern carpet of fall foliage and thankfully, I calmed down a little. A life long lover of flight, I felt at ease behind the buzz of the prop, bumping over air pockets. It helped that the view was bloody staggering; my delayed jump was seemingly in perfect sync with the fiery orange and neon yellow of the changing leaves.
We shifted into position and I felt very much like Mini-Me, finding myself strapped to this burly man’s chest. Not at all concerned about this stranger pretty much spooning me in an airplane with the door open, I tentatively stuck my foot out onto the small platform. I was shocked at the force of the wind as my leg blew back, and the adrenaline began throbbing in my head. It was too high to be scared of the height—it was a completely different sensation.
Experiencing half overwhelming appreciation for the beautiful landscape below and half pure euphoria, I was on the verge of thrill-meltdown as the instructor peeled my white knuckles from the handle on the side of the plane. Grateful for his commanding presence behind me, he took over and we barreled out.
Oh, awesome weightlessness, rush of wind, ass over tea kettle- WOW. Free fall was so intense! We spun, dove, I screamed like a baby, and it was over way too quickly. I could feel my heartbeat in my skull as the chute deployed and we began the calm descent
to ground. At this point I started trilling like Beatlemania, elated. “Again, again, again!!”
I chirped, and the instructor just chuckled. Poor guy’s ears were probably bleeding, but I was way too pumped for that consideration.
A smooth landing on my jelly knees and I was wild-eyed, grinning sloppily and quite beside myself. I probably looked like I’d had a few too many, but I was still too happy to care.
I still get sweaty palms just thinking about that day, and I so look forward to doing it again. I think everyone should try it; skydiving is certainly a life changer! That jump will remain steadfast at the top of the list of amazing things I’ve done, and I hope you all someday give it a try.
Noella Schink is a travel and writer from Portland, Maine. Try skydiving in Great Britain! When you take the plunge, hire your car rental in the UK from Auto Europe to get you to the jump site!