Sunday, June 20, 2010
My Skydiving Adventure
It's already been a week since I've made the plunge and checked off skydiving from my bucket list. I wanted to see if the exhilaration from the experience would fade in time. It hasn't. I can still feel the excitement of the anticipation. How my heart beats faster each day leading to my birthday - the day when I made the jump.
That day, I woke up with my cellphone ringing. My best friend didn't bother sleeping that morning. She decided to head over my place before the first rays of the sun broke through the sky. Half-asleep and struggling to dress up for the big jump, I finally decided to wear shorts and a tank top.
The view during the trip towards Skydive Space Center in Titusville is amazing. The dawn was just breaking and different shades of red and yellow whirled together while the sun began to rise. Mists of water floated up into the air as the day began to heat up. Reflection of the sky mirrored against the waters in the marshes and lakes. It was beginning to look like a gorgeous day.
We ended up being at least one hour early. The diving center was still closed. We were intrigued with the different planes outside the hangar of the other site. There were at least six planes of different sizes, shapes, and colors.
Finally, the doors opened. Wendy at the front register spoke with me a little more about skydiving. I explained to her that I'll be doing 18,000 feet that day. She wondered whether I went skydiving before. When I told her that it's going to be my first, she became very excited. Then she indicated that I had to have a partner since they need at least 2 people to do the 18,000.
Thank goodness that my partner for the 18,000 came as he promised. We were both so excited to be the only ones to do the highest jump from the group. I told him that since we have the option to do 18,000, might as well do it all the way. More air time = more fun.
Since our registration finished before anyone else who wanted to do the dive that day, the three of us wandered off to the hangar. There, we could see parachutes being put together. We took pictures of everything. We wanted to be able to look back and remember what we have done.
I ended up talking to the pilot, Greg. He was teaching me bits and pieces of the plane. He was also showing what he's looking for, making sure there's enough fluids and what the engine looked like. He even went further and discussed about the propeller and how that worked.
Finally, the plane was being out pulled out of the hangar. We still had a lot of time to spare before getting into our harness. So, we started talking about the expectations during the jump. Next thing I know, I was donning the pilot's harness and checking out the cockpit. My little group definitely ended up with more experience than the rest of the skydivers that day. I suppose being sociable has its advantages.
After fooling around with a farting dummy, it's finally time to get into my actual harness. My jump master is going to be JR and my videographer was Big Bird. I think Big Bird's real name is Paul. But Big Bird stuck in my head instead. After being geared up and ready, I had my before jump interview. Looking back, I have to wonder whether or not I believed what I said. I said that I'm just really excited and make the big jump. I was not scared at all - just really excited. I didn't even have knots forming in my tummy. No butterflies flying around. Just calmness. It's hard to explain since most people would have been anxious. I guess I just had a knowing that everything was going to be A-OK. Might as well just enjoy the ride.
The call to head towards the plane finally arrived. At first, I was seated in the opposite side from the door. Somehow, I ended up being right next to the door of the plane. Big Bird was crazy. He mostly kept the door of the plane open and he was sitting on the floor right next to it. I have to agree that the wind flowing in was pretty refreshing. As the plane went higher and higher, the perception of how things look became very different. The houses looked like little boxes and trees became dots on the ground. I'm glad that I ended up being next to the door.
I told JR to go crazy with the dive. I was met with lots of approval from other videographers in the plane. They said that JR's middle name is crazy. I got excited when JR told Big Bird to get ready for 3 flips in the air. Yay! It's going to be a lot of fun.
The door finally opened and the light switched from red to green. At that moment, I realized that I was the first one to jump. I told myself that since I was already there, I don't have a choice but to jump. And 3, 2, 1... there goes the jump. Chin the chest, tuck in knees - we did the flips as JR promised. Then comes the serenity of floating in the air. Weird enough, I didn't feel the dropping feeling someone would have experienced in free fall rides such as The Tower of Terror. No, the feeling was surreal. I felt like I was embracing the world and I loved it.
We did a few more things like grab Big Bird's foot to put in the video. Then it was time to pull the chute. It was so relaxing just parachuting up there in the air. The view is amazing. I could see where NASA is located, the beach, and everything else in between. I can see the curvature of the earth. I was at peace. I wish I could just fall asleep with that nice feeling.
JR let me navigate the parachute for a little bit. I could see others in their parachutes landing and yet we were still way above them - still had a long way to go. I was not strong enough to make circles with the parachute so JR had to help me with that. Whoa, that part made me a bit giddy and dizzy all at the same time.
I thought at first that I had to end up in my butt when we landed. JR instructed me to just look like as if we were running. It was a little tricky trying to find the right timing but yes, there we were, stopping successfully.
My partner and I ended up with the 18,000. It was sweet to have something to let others know that we could do it. But in the end, I just say that the paper could not even show how much of a blast the entire experience have been.
Now, another check in my bucket list. And more to go... Who knows I'll be up to next.