Sky Diving: What a Rush!
It Just Keeps Getting Better
My First Jump
Have you ever felt so bored with everything going on that you knew you had to do something to light that spark and put some excitement back into your life but you either don't know what to do or you keep putting it off for some lame excuse?
Well, that's were my head was at back in the early 90's.
The company I was working for promoted me to Manager and shipped me off to open a brand new office in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada.
For the first year, life was great. New office, new promotion and lots of company perks to go with my new position. For any sales managers out there, you know what it's like to put a top sales team together and your office is rockin. Lot's of fun, money was flowing and you are on top of your game.
As I mentioned, the first year was very exciting but then I started to notice I was getting bored. I was getting into a rut and I didn't really notice it until I was driving to work one morning.
I was coming up to a set of traffic lights and without even noticing whether the light was green or not, I just followed the car in front of me right through the lights. All of sudden another car coming from the other direction just about nailed me. That woke me up in a hurry. I thought the guy who I followed through the lights, ran the light, which meant I did too but it was the guy who almost hit me that actually ran the light.
The point I'm getting at is that I was so use to the same routine every day, that I didn't even notice if the light was green or not. I just followed the guy in front of me like a cow heading out to the pasture.
I sat in my office all day, going over and over in my mind the episode that morning and started thinking to myself that I have got to change a few things and I mean Now. I also noticed that it was effecting my sales performance so I came up with a great idea.
The next day I would take a different route to work. Yup, that was my great idea. Take a different route to work. For some strange reason it didn't work. I was still bored to death. I needed a challenge. Something to give me a jump start. Something that would scare the s--t out of me and put that hustle back into my game and there it was, staring right at me in the morning newspaper.
Learn to Skydive!
Well, why not. I wanted to do it for years and kept putting it off so now there is no excuse. Pick up the phone and find out what you have to do, I kept telling myself. Get off your lazy butt and just go for it, so i did.
I was getting excited and I haven't even done anything yet but the anticipation of jumping out of a airplane was giving me an adrenaline rush already. That was nothing compared to what was about to come a few days later.
That Saturday morning, I drove out to the Moncton, New Brunswick, Skydiving Club to meet the two owners at that time, Greg and Pat and my jump master, Jim. All turned out to be great guys. The one thing I noticed about all skydivers that day and every day since, no matter what drop zone you go to anywhere in the world.They are all nuts. lol
They come from every background you could possibly imagine but they all have one thing in common. They all have that twinkle in their eyes. That sparkle of life. It's like they know some amazing secret you don't and the only thing i knew is that I wanted that sparkle in my eyes. I wanted to have that pure adrenaline rush surging through my body. I needed it
That Saturday, I sat though around 6 hours of classroom study and practicing our exits in an old plane they had set up but by 3 pm, it was time.
The gear they had at that time was just before the new Sabre chutes came out so I had my main chute on my back and my reserve chute strapped to my stomach. They had me strapped up so tight that I looked and felt like a crippled old man when I was walking around the drop zone which made me even more nervous but it was time to get on the plane. Showtime!
I remember shaking my head as my mind was racing thinking, run away, just turn around and run away. Are you nuts? What the hell are you doing you idiot but my legs kept walking towards that plane and suddenly, I was in and there was no turning back now.
The plane itself was an old 172 which had 4 seats, one of which was missing. It had one wing going over the top of the plane with struts coming down towards the cockpit to the bottom of the doors on both sides and then two more struts, heading down, out from the plane with the wheels attached on both sides. They also took the door off which meant I had a 4 foot square hole right beside me.
The pilot had his seat but the one to his right was missing and that's were my jump master, Jim was positioned. He was knelling, facing me and another first timer in the back seat to my left.
OK, here we go. Were rolling down the runway and it is becoming very real, very fast. I remember I was so dry, I could barely swallow. To say I was absolutely terrified is an understatement and as I go through the steps in my mind almost 20 years later, I still get an adrenaline rush just thinking about it.
As were climbing, gaining altitude, the plane hits a pocket of rough air and rises about 100 ft. instantly. I almost puked. lol
We start circling around the drop zone at around 2000 ft. and Jim drops out a marker which is a metal rod about a foot long and has a 15 ft, long piece of colored ribbon on it all rolled up like a baton. He then proceeds to throw it directly at the drop zone like he was pitching a hardball.
As we keep climbing and circling, Jim is keeping a close eye on the were the marker lands so he knows exactly where we have to get out by putting his finger and thumb together to measure the gap between them and then takes that same size gap and moves it to the opposite side of the drop zone. Not very high tech but I guess after thousands of jumps under his belt. he's got it down to a science. I Hope!
We finally reach our jump height, around 3750 feet and I know those terrifying words that I've been dreading to hear since I got on the plane, are about to come from Jim. Get Ready!
HOLY SHIT. Here We Go!!!! lol
As soon as he mentioned those words, I passed Jim my pilot chute, which is attached to my main chute by a 15 foot static line which he throws out of the plane as soon as I jump to guarantee the pilot chute opens my main chute in case I forgot. lol.
I get out of my seat and position myself facing out the door. I'm ready. I look at Jim and with a huge, devilish grin on his face he yells, GET OUT!
With both hands wielded to the side of the doors, I stick my head into hurricane force winds. Halfway down the wheel strut is a small, metal footstep about 3 inches square.. I slide my left foot down the strut until it lands on the step, then I reach out and grab the bottom of the wing strut with my left hand and slowly start getting out. Now I am looking down at a straight drop of almost 4ooo ft with wind trying to rip me off the plane. I was too scared to think about anything except what I learned in class.
As I get a good grip with my left hand on the wing strut and my foot secure on the step, I now have to slide further out of the door and grab the top of the wing strut with my right hand and my right foot now has to go out and stand on the wheel. I'm praying that the pilot remembered to put the brakes on like we learned in class or I would be rolling right off the wheel.
Now I have to maneuver my left foot onto the tire, slide my right foot off the tire, move my hands as far up the wing strut as I can without blowing off the wing while my right foot dangles in mid air. I'm ready, Or am I?
I know that as soon as I turn my head and look back at Jim, he is going to scream GO and I don't want to Go. I'm kind of enjoying the view. I don't want to jump but I can hear Jim screaming at me. GO! GO ! GO! So
I just let go and started falling into oblivion.
The only thing I really remember is a mass of colors spinning around my head and the wind whistling through my ears. Blue, green, white, brown and then after what seemed like an eternity, my chute opens up. Wow! I'm still alive. It's a Miracle. Thank you Jesus.
Apparently I heard later that all the colors where the ground and sky, from me flipping around in circles.
Now it's just a canopy ride down. I even got Pat on the ground, with a Walkie Talkie strapped to my chest, talking me home. The only problem is that I now have line twist which means all my lines are wrapped up in a twist like a giant licorice from the top of my head to the bottom of the chute, so until I unravel them, I can't disengage my steering toggles and who knows where I would land with out steering so whatever way the lines are twisted, I force my body to twist in the opposite direction.
OK, here we go. Great!. It's working but now I'm spinning like a top at 3000 ft. Oh OH. I think I'm going to puke again.
I remember looking down at the drop zone from 3000 feet and all I could see was a few tiny buildings, a black pin stripe which was the runway and giant, green fields of grass.
Well, I finally got everything straightened out, really enjoying the amazing view and was coming in for my landing while trying to follow all of Pat's advice on the walkie talkie but it seemed that whatever way I tried to steer, I kept heading back to the runway. Pat Screams, Get Ready to Flare (Air brakes) OK Flare! so I flared. Pulled both steering (toggles) lines straight down to my side at the same time which makes your chute collapse so you better get your timing right or it is going to hurt. There is not a lot of give in a hard ground
Unfortunately, I got what they called Ground Rush and flared a little too early which means I stalled out and dropped about 10 ft. right on the pavement of the runway, on my elbow. It instantly gave me a bruise halfway up to my shoulder, down to my wrist. I thought for sure that I broke it but I was rushing so hard, I couldn't feel anything.
I'm standing there in the middle of the runway in a daze and all of a sudden I hear Jim's voice screaming at me. Hey Man, get off the Runway the plane is going to run you over. Holy Shit!! Ok. I come out of my daze, grab my chute and drag it to the side when Jim comes over grabs my arms, starts shaking me and screaming with a big smile on his face. So! What did you think? What did you think?
I'm standing there staring at him with my eyes popping out of my head, my heart pumping so fast I thought it was going to explode right out of my chest and I'm breathing so hard Jim said I sounded like his dog panting on a hot summer day. I looked him straight in the eyes and after a few minutes I said.
It was great until the chute opened, then the ride was over.
All of a sudden the smile disappeared right off Jim's face and with a sullen look and calmer tone in his voice he said.
My Son, You are going to be a skydiver.
After that, I jumped many times out of Moncton and for some reason, well over 50% of my landings were on the runway so they gave me my new handle. "Runway Burn"
I always told the guys that if they put the drop zone on the runway, I would nail my landings every time.
For those of you who have no intention of taking up ski diving for a full time sport but would like to experience the rush at least once, I suggest going to the nearest drop zone and asking if they do Tandum jumps. This means that you are hooked up to a jump master and you jump out together at anywhere between 7500 and 12,500 ft. At least you feel Terminal Velocity which is the speed a body falls.
For anyone reading this who is thinking about going for it, then stop thinking and go for it
It will change your life forever and really puts everything into it's proper perspective. Nothing in your life will ever seem normal again because you will now know what living is all about.
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