I was born with an adventurous spirit and have always pushed myself to try new things, especially the ones that scare me. It’s such a rush to be on the other side of overcoming a fear. You feel on top of the world and there is so much personal growth that occurs from conquering a fear. Seeing how I have always had a yearning to do things that get the adrenaline pumping, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that skydiving was very near the top of my bucket list for most of my life.
A few years ago, I finally got the chance. My family knew how badly I wanted to go skydiving and surprised me one year for my birthday with a gift certificate to a local jump spot. And for icing on the cake, my dad, my sister, and my brother in law all decided to skydive with me! We set a date and eagerly anticipated its arrival!
On the day that we were scheduled to jump, we drove to the hangar in Allegan, Michigan where the company was located.
The skies were a little overcast but we kept our fingers crossed that the weather would clear up so we could still jump! To our disappointment, we received a phone call on the way there from a lady at Skydive, Inc. telling us that they were cancelling all jumps for the day due to the clouds and fog. We had just checked the weather on our phones and the forecast was calling for clear weather within a matter of an hour so we all but begged them to still let us come and just wait out the weather. My sister had experienced this exact scenario once before when she and a friend signed up to go and their trip was cancelled due to weather. They sat in the hangar for hours but the weather never cleared. Knowing the risk that we might wait for nothing, they allowed us to come sign in and wait, but only after some sweet talking. Fortunately, history did not repeat itself and soon enough, the sun was gleaming and the clouds cleared enough so that they agreed to take us up! My mom wasn’t extremely comfortable with our decision to go when it was initially advised not to, but we knew the company wouldn’t let us go if it wasn’t safe and above all else, we knew God would protect us!
We started by reading a waiver of liability and signing our lives away. It was a little disconcerting reading some of the warnings, but not enough to scare us away!
After that, they gathered us up for a safety briefing and told us we would go up in groups of two.
They helped us put on our harnesses and showed us how to hold them when we jumped.
I think they were a lot less comfortable for the guys than they were for the girls!
There was another adventurous couple there that had waited with us for the weather and they got to go up first, as they had been scheduled before us and had been waiting longer. It was fun to watch them as we anxiously awaited our turns. We lost sight of the plane in the clouds but soon we saw what looked like tiny ants falling from the clouds as they jumped.
When they got back to the ground, it was time for my dad and I to go up. We hugged everyone on the ground, said a little prayer, and got in the plane.
My mom and Dustin had absolutely zero desire to go with us. After much begging, I finally came to terms with the fact that I wasn’t going to convince them to join us. They couldn’t understand why someone would willingly want to jump out of a perfectly good airplane and plummet to the ground from 10,000 feet in the air. I couldn’t understand why someone wouldn’t want to! 🙂 Nonetheless, they seemed completely content to keep their feet firmly planted on the ground and just watch us.
The plane was very tiny and we had to cram the pilot, my dad and I, and the two guys that would be tandem skydiving with us into a very small area. We had to sit Indian style for about a 20 minute ride up.
On the way up, Tim McGraw’s song “Live Like You Were Dying” was playing over and over in my head like a sound track to the experience. “I went skydiving, I went Rocky Mountain climbing….” It’s funny because I thought I would be so nervous but I had this calm that came over me and I was nothing but excited! The guide even asked if I was scared and with a huge smile, I replied, “Not at all!”. My dad kept telling me he loved me on the way up. It was very cute and such a fun experience to go up with my dad! I asked if he would jump first because I wanted to be able to watch someone jump before I went so I could see the whole experience. If I had jumped first, I would’ve missed seeing him do a back flip out of the plane, and that was awesome! With one last smile another I love you, my dad and his guide jumped! The plane was traveling at approximately 80 mph. We had to take a step out of the plane and hang onto a bar while going this fast and step onto a small pedestal that you can see in the photo below.
The feeling of holding onto the outside of an airplane going 80 mph while being 10,000 feet in the air was worth it by itself, but that was nothing compared to what was next!
The guide was harnessed to my back and was also holding on to the outside of the plane. He had told me that when he tapped me on the shoulder, I needed to let go of the plane and that he would still be holding on. Then when he tapped me again, we were going to jump. My heart starting racing as I loosened my sweaty palmed grip on the bar and let go after the first tap. As I felt the second tap, the guide catapulted us into a back flip off from the plane, resulting in one of the biggest smiles of my life, and we began our free fall towards the ground. This feeling was indescribable and was unlike anything I’ve ever felt. It was such a freeing feeling and so neat to be able to see 360 degrees around. From that high up, we could see Lake Michigan, which was at least a good 30 minute drive from Allegan.
After falling for about 5000 feet at roughly 120-150 mph, which seemed like just a blink, the guide opened our chute and we started slowly floating through the sky. This part of the experience wasn’t quite as exhilarating but it was fun in its own right because the guide could control which direction we went and even spun us in a few donuts on the way down. After a few minutes, we came in for a landing and safely made it to the ground.
I walked over to everyone grinning from ear to ear, expecting my dad to look the same. But to my surprise, he hadn’t had quite the amazing experience as I had. When he and his guide initially did the backflip, they got caught in a bit of a spin and the guide ended up losing track of their altitude, so he pulled the chute early, just to be safe. Because of the spinning, my dad ended up getting a little bit of motion sickness and his skin looked almost yellow when I walked up, but he was still smiling!
My mom and Dustin told me that for a moment they thought something was wrong when they watched as I jumped. My dad had gone first and so they expected my parachute to open at about the same altitude as his did. However, I free fell much further than he did because his guide had pulled their chute early. They said their hearts momentarily stopped until they saw my chute open up. Sorry guys! 🙂
After my dad and I were safely on the ground, it was time for my sister Karly, and her husband, Karl, to go up. They crammed into the same plane as we had been in and headed up.
It was a crazy feeling watching people you love fall from the sky that way, and for a moment, I realized how my mom must have felt watching her entire family plummet from the sky.
Karl looked like the Hulk when he was floating down! He had been in the army and was very muscular and you could barely even see the guy behind him! Before we went, the guides were fighting over who had to go with him versus my sister since he was such a big guy!
After they both landed, Karly told me that on the way up, her foot had started to go numb from sitting Indian style for so long. She didn’t want it to be asleep when it came time to have to step out onto the ledge so she tried to gently maneuver it into a different position. Because it was numb, she didn’t realize how fast she moved it and ended up accidentally kicking her guide right in the goods. He flinched and joked telling her she didn’t want to injure the person that would be her ticket to safely getting back to the ground!
Overall, the experience definitely lived up to my expectations and I would go again in a heartbeat! Next time I go, I would like to go somewhere with a little more of a view. Most of what we could see was corn fields but it didn’t matter because it was such an amazing adventure! Even if you are afraid, I highly recommend doing this, at least once, in your lifetime!
“Do one thing everyday that scares you.”- Eleanor Roosevelt