JAnice Jumps

As my sixty-fourth birthday approaches in early September, my husband, Phil, struggles to buy presents for me since I tend to purchase what I want when I want it. But this year is the exception.

“What do you think of the idea of going skydiving for your birthday?” he inquires.

I grin like the Cheshire cat and proclaim ‘I’m in!”

Skydiving has been on my bucket list for years, but Phil always concerned for my well-being had hoped that  I would lose interest or maybe come to my senses.  I haven’t, I didn’t.

But now I have his support and his blessing.

I couldn’t make the reservation quickly enough.  Phil did the research and decided to go to Fryosity out of Logandale, NV.  It flies you over the Valley of Fire and Lake Mead.  The views are stunning. I had done a tiny bit of research on the dos and don’ts of skydiving.

One of the suggestions was to eat a light meal the night before and the morning of should nausea hit you.  The night before my jump we went the watch the Las Vegas Golden Knights, hockey team, play. Neither one of us had a chance to grab dinner which left us to the food offered at the stadium.  Not a good plan, apparently hockey fans don’t eat lightly.  The best I could come up with was a beef brisket hoagie and fries.  An hour later my stomach was already a bit upset.   How is this going to affect my jump first thing in the morning?  I really didn’t want to evacuate my stomach contents as I was lunging to earth attached to a complete stranger.

The jump is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. We leave a bit before 7:00 a.m. to ensure we arrive on time, accounting for the hour-long travel time. We arrived at 8:00 am. I am full of joy, this is going to happen!  For over four decades, I held a deep longing to accomplish this, knowing my husband didn’t support the same I doubted that it would happen.  Yet today is the day! Another dream is becoming a reality.

We arrive and are greeted with a smile and an explanation of what will happen today. First I need to watch a video emphasizing that I am aware this could end in my death, I kid you not.  Then I meet my instructor, also known as the man I will be strapped to when exiting the plane from almost 10,000 feet.  I am a student, and he is the instructor.  The pressure is on because unbeknownst to me, I will have to do something other than just go for a ride. 

My instructions included how to get on the plane and scoot myself into a small area of about four feet by two feet width about 12 inches from the pilot.  Main objective  DO NOT  touch any of the flight controls.  Lessons for deplaning include flipping myself over within this tiny space, while not touching, or hitting any of the flight controls. Then my instructor, Steve, will pull me close to him, and strap us tightly together, he will put his foot on the ledge outside of the plane, and I am then to follow, and place my foot next to his, leaning my right shoulder between my legs, he will tap and we will jump, all while the side of the plane is open and I hopefully don’t fall out before I am attached to my life-saving instructor.  Once we have deplaned I am to hold onto my straps, arch my back, put my arms out, “Like Jesus” and keep my feet pointed, and legs in between Steves. He will tap me on the shoulder when I need to do all this, then there will be another tap when, well I don’t know as I’ve already forgotten my instructions.

We are on the plane. I got in without taking out any flight controls, we gained altitude, and the views of Lake Mead, the Colorado River, the majestic red rocks, and the jagged desert landscape surrounded us. I am relaxed.

Then Steve signals for me to flip over, he straps us together, opens the hatch, foot out on the peg, and then we jump.

Sheer elation, you are freefalling from the plane plummeting toward the ground at 120 mph.  You are in the moment., experiencing new and unknown before this moment, sensations. The wind is intense and extremely liberating. You are free.

When the parachute is deployed it feels like it yanks you up, though I think it just slowed us down. Then there is quiet, peaceful. 

We had about five minutes of luxuriously floating in the air and then it was time to land.  My job was to keep my legs up in the air and out of Steve’s way who easily landed.  It was exhilarating

Asked if I would do it again. “Oh, my yes! I hope I get another chance.”

For now, I will relive the thrill, elation, and liberation of the day I took a leap of faith and skydived.