For my 21st birthday this year, I got one of the most amazing gifts I have ever received…and it’s probably not what you’re thinking…skydiving! My best friend had signed us up and paid for us to go skydiving and I was absolutely shocked. It was one of the things on both of our bucket lists and she knew just how bad I wanted to skydive, so you can imagine how many emotions were going on when I found out-extreme and undesirable bliss accompanied by unbelievable thankfulness and appreciation, with a side of mild fear. Now, because I am a major pain and don’t like surprises simply because I have a strong curiosity that drives people nuts, I got to know about my surprise a few days ahead of time. This was only because I pestered my best friend until she cracked…which I feel slightly bad about. None the less, my best friend and I agreed that it was probably best that I didn’t find out I would be jumping out of a plane the day of.
So, after a painfully long day at work we were off to Skydive Midwest. We got there, filled out paperwork, sat through a quick session of what this experience will entail, got assigned who we would be jumping out of the plane with, and before we knew it we were getting on our skydiving clothes. You don’t have to put on a suit, but I guess the coolness factor of it and the fact that they just happened to have 3 matching full-body suits for the 3 of us (her sister came along) was what urged me to wear one. Then it was time to board the helicopter and up we went. I can say that although somewhat nervous, I was mostly excited. However, I am usually a very quiet person. My ‘jumping buddy’ took my quietness as nerves, which resulted in him constantly asking how I was doing and if I was getting really scared. Despite this, I was glad I was paired with the instructor I was, since he was extremely humorous. The whole way up, he continuously showed me his watch which displayed what height we were at.
Because I was one of the first people on the helicopter, I was one of the last people off. On the helicopter, you sit facing the back of the plane straddling a bench. It is quite uncomfortable because you are practically sitting on the lap of the person you are strapped to, and trust me- you are strapped pretty tight which is both uncomfortable and simultaneously comforting. People jumped off one by one until at last it was my turn. So, my guide and I awkwardly waddled over to the opened door of the helicopter and I squatted down liked I learned in the training session. However, unlike I was told in the training session, I did look down. I didn’t freak out though, which is why I believe they tell you in the first place not to look down. I just starred in awe at how incredibly awesome it was to see the world from such a different perspective, knowing that in only moments I would be descending at an accelerated rate back to the surface of which I came from not more than probably 10 minutes ago. And before I knew it, I followed orders, put my hands across my chest, and pushed off the edge of the last surface my feet would touch until landing.
Now, I don’t want to scare any of those who also have skydiving currently written down on their bucket list, but make sure you follow the exact instructions they give you when you jump out of the plane. I think I may have gotten a little too excited, and although I’m not exactly sure what happened, by instructor and I hit the side of the plane on the way out. To me, it just felt like we tumbled out of the plane and did a few flips in the air. Before you over-react, it really was not as bad as I’m sure it sounds (but I can’t speak for the instructor). Let’s just put it this way, later on the instructor asked if I was okay.I responded with “yes, why?”, where he went on to inform me that I hit the side of the plane on the way out with my head. I literally had no idea that happened, whether it was due to excitement or not, and I told him just that. He laughed and said “well, you do have a lot of hair” and patted my ‘mane’ as I refer to it as.
Anyways, on to the actual skydiving part! It was simply amazing. First thing to know is that when you make your jump and are falling at such an extreme speed downward, it actually feels like you are floating. You feel free and your arms and legs float effortlessly. If you’re like me, your mouth is open and flapping in the wind so bad that you develop dry mouth within seconds (but oh well, totally worth it). If it were possible, I would fall for so much longer but realistically you can only fall for a few minutes. I felt a sudden shift, and the next instant I was in a half seated, half standing position and the first thing I noticed was silence. After falling and having nothing but loud wind in your ears, it is very peaceful when you drastically switch to a much slower, floating drift on your parachute down. This was where I got to talk a bit with my instructor and he asked me how it was and what I thought. All I kept choking out was ‘it’s amazing’, which by that point you really can’t think of any words that could accurately describe such a mind-blowing experience. He then had me try and spot the landing spot (a big grassy field) and let me grab the handles of the parachute and steer for a while. I can’t imagine how long it takes someone to learn how to accurately steer towards the landing ground because let me tell you-I was not very good at it. My instructor even told me how a different instructor landed at the nearest burger king once because it was too windy. When we got closer to the landing site, I tucked my legs in as told and we landed pretty gracefully to the ground compared to other stories I was told about past landings. I got unstrapped from my instructor and thanked him for such a great experience. Then I met back up with my best friend and her sister and we obviously went on and on about it.
And this my friends, was the perfect way to kick off being 21 if you ask me.