wine by the color

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Friday night, I had a vivid dream in which my cousin came down with a severe illness that would force the cancellation of sky diving the following morning.

But that was only a dream, so after a quick breakfast Saturday morning it was off to fly through the sky on what turned out to be a beautiful, sunny day.

Upon arrival, we needed to go through the waiver process. This involved watching a brief video and then filling out 15 pages of forms stating we would not sue anyone in the event of maiming or death. This could have been boring, and certainly the forms were. But oh, the video. (Note: the video has obviously been updated but I think they just did a cut-and-splice job because outside of the "early 1990s" reference, everything else is pretty much the same.)

The ZZ Top beard was enough to get us rolling, but the black humor of the ambulance driving away from the landing zone really set us off. After watching the video, we noticed two sewing machines in the sky dive office, which struck me as oddly funny. My cousin pointed out they were probably to repair torn parachutes. The sewing machines looked like antiques, so that gave me a moment's pause.

Our lives signed away, it was then on to the jump center, where we were outfitted in becoming blue Dickie jumpsuits. Some of the suits featured the helpful warning above on the back, which added to the levity. We were given a three-minute tutorial of what to expect and do both in the plane and once we exited. Then, we waited.

There were several jumpers in front of us. And that was the only time I got nervous during the entire process. As we waited for the first jumpers to come into view, the anticipation was k-i-l-l-i-n-g me. I was quite anxious to see the process, and in particular the landing, and then check out the faces of the jumpers, to get a read on how it went.

Five minutes later, I had my answer. The landings were uneventful and the jumpers seemed fine and completely wound up. About an hour later, it was our turn to head up in a plane that is no doubt on the cusp of several FAA regulation violations. But it accomplished the two things we needed - it took off successfully and delivered us to a height of 10,000 feet.

I expected to be much more nervous in the plane. Once we got in the air, however, I kept myself occupied looking for familiar landmarks, which kept me distracted and surprisingly calm. We flew over the Point Pleasant boardwalk and the ocean, and then started to head back toward the airport and drop zone. Twenty minutes after leaving the landing strip, it was time to return to it in a completely different fashion.

That entire process of me getting attached to my instructor, a final altitude check and opening the door opening took all of a minute. I was the first one out of the plane (along with the man strapped to my back) which was good as it barely gave me time to think about what came next. I put my right foot out of the plane, followed by my instructor's right foot. Then, the force of the wind sucked us right out of the plane.

And then, I was flying.

It's impossible to put into words the feeling of free falling 6,000 feet from the sky in 45 seconds. For the entirety of that 3/4 of a minute, my thought process was the following: "Holy fucking shit." "I cannot believe I'm doing this." "Holy fucking shit." "I cannot believe I'm doing this." "Holy fucking shit." "I cannot believe I'm doing this." This refrain was accompanied by a chorus of screaming. I was so consumed by the adrenaline rush of the free fall that I didn't notice anything except the sound of my happy screams, the feeling of the skin on my face being pulled back due to the force of the wind and fall, and the sight of the ground below me. I wasn't even aware of the instructor behind me. Just me, plummeting to the ground. But in a good way.

And then, in an instant, it went from a screaming free fall to almost complete silence. When the parachute opened, everything was very calm and very quiet except for the rippling of the parachute. And that may go down as one of the most amazing moments of my life. Just floating through the sky. Knowing my heart hadn't exploded due to the free fall. Realizing that the hard part was over and that I could just enjoy the feeling of flying. We did some maneuvers, criss-crossing the sky, before heading to the landing strip for a landing.

My instructor was a military paratrooper for 17 years who just retired two weeks ago. When he told me to do something, I did it. He had indicated that when we were ready to land, I needed to keep my feet up, so we could slide in for a landing. If your feet drag, it's possible you can get caught on your toes and go down face first, which would then lead to being dragged along by your chute. I was determined to avoid this so I kept my feet at a ridiculously high level. But there was no face-first dragging, so I considered the landing to be a complete success.

The crazy nephews, who came to watch with my brother and sister-in-law, were FIRED UP. The younger one immediately started pestering everyone about his desire to jump out of a plane. He wasn't happy to hear he has to wait 14 years. He's already reserved a trip with me when he turns 18.

I'm in.

One final picture - in this one, taken no doubt to capture my disrobing from the sexy blue jumpsuit, you can see the plane in the background.


  • At 6/18/2007 1:17 PM, Blogger Maggie said…

    You make me, for just one second, forget that the last thing I ever want to do is jump out of a plane. Wow!

  • At 6/18/2007 1:21 PM, Blogger SJPSandman said…

    You're all fucking nuts.

  • At 6/18/2007 9:53 PM, Blogger Joependleton said…

    Holy fucking shit." "I cannot believe I'm doing this." "Holy fucking shit." "I cannot believe I'm doing this." "Holy fucking shit." "I cannot believe I'm doing this."

    I think I uttered those same words the first day I walked into Gannet's Bridgewater offices.

  • At 6/18/2007 10:01 PM, Blogger Joe and Mel said…

    Fantastic story. Joe just told me, over my shoulder, that he forbids me every considering this. This is the bummer about that marriage-submission thing.
    Thoroughly enjoying the review of your life. Many outbursts of jolly included.

  • At 6/18/2007 10:28 PM, Blogger Mary Ellen said…

    Holy fucking shit! That sounds like so much fun and for a minute you had me convinced that I wanted to do it :)

  • At 6/18/2007 11:01 PM, Blogger the joker said…

    I thought about doing this....but just reading the description caused me to nix that idea.

    Interestingly, the guy on the video, whose beard I wanted to throw those velcro balls at, looks like The Sandman's stepfather.

    A man who also made us sign a similar 15-page release prior to consuming the festive Pesach meal.

    Something about him not being responsible if the matzah wasn't kosher or if the horseradish caused severe esophagus burns.

  • At 6/19/2007 6:22 AM, Blogger jersey girl said…

    Mel, my sister-in-law expressed an interest in joining me. Then my brother shot her an "over my dead body" look. And she remembered she has three small children.

  • At 6/20/2007 5:07 PM, Blogger zip1010 said…


    I'm rather comfortable just sitting in the plane, although I've had a few landings lately that felt like I had jumped.

  • At 3/09/2010 9:45 PM, Blogger bitchybetty said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


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