The look on Drew Danick's face in the picture at the top of this page is pretty much how I felt when I jumped out of an airplane.
It was a long time ago, within a few years of my college graduation, which would put it in the mid-1990s. (I can also tell by the goofy sweater vest-type top I'm wearing and the scrunchie I've got in my hair; I watched my video again as I was writing this.)
I drove up to Free fall Adventures in South Jersey to skydive with some friends from college. It was on my dad's birthday, June 19, but I can't remember what year.
It was one of the coolest, most exhilarating things I've done in my life. And I'd do it again in a heartbeat. My husband, however, says I can't, rather he'd prefer that I not, because I've got responsibilities now, namely Henry and Emily. But if I really, really want to do it, I don't think he'd stop me. (Now that I can do it in Harford County, I might have a better chance.)
I think everyone should skydive. Put it on your bucket list, even if you're scared.
What you can see is incredible. From our jump location, I could see the Atlantic Ocean. Once you're up in the air and getting ready to dive, you don't have a whole lot of time to stop and think about what it is you're about to do. You don't get to stop at the edge of the plane and look around, you just walk off. I'm guessing that's so people don't have second thoughts and decide not to do it.
My first thought as I was doing the required back flip off the plane was "What the *&%$ am I doing?" And yes, it was an expletive I was thinking. But it got better and better. Once I was able to catch my breath and breathe again, and my mouth wasn't quite so dry, I could really take a look around.
There's just something to be said about jumping out of an airplane almost two miles off the ground then falling at 120 miles an hour. It's daunting and it's scary, but it's incredible. During the free fall, you're just there, and it's almost like everything is moving around you, not you drop, drop, dropping at more than twice the highway speed limit.
Your skin flops around, being pulled by the speed of the air (imagine one of those high-powered hand-dryers in public restrooms).
It's kind of weird, having someone strapped to your back, but it was a good thing he was there. He told me I could pull the parachute at the right altitude; I wasn't paying attention to the altimeter on my wrist, so he did it instead. I'm afraid to think of what might have happened had he not, but I don't think that was ever in question.
After the chute is pulled, it's a whole different kind of experience. Then you're just floating through the air, like time is standing still. After an incredible, intense 60 seconds in which you feel like you're holding on for dear life, you start to just glide down slowly, slowly, taking in everything around you.
Then you land and it's over. A dozen minutes of pure excitement. It was a thrill of a lifetime!