When I first moved to Austin one of the very first guys I met was this handsome and super cool dude named Jake. It was almost scary how much we had in common and both share a love of adventure. I knew at that very first “dinner date” that it wasn’t the start of a relationship, but the start of a friendship that was going to last a very long time. Even after only meeting once, it was as if we knew each other for ages, the way we just kept babbling on and on about things.
I remember the conversation from that very first night, when he said that one of the most incredible things he has ever done was when he went skydiving in Switzerland… Free falling with a straight shot of the top of the Alps. Can you even imagine such an incredible view? He later showed me the video from the jump and I was blown away. I decided then and there skydiving was high up on the list of things to do before I die.
Fast forward several months and one random day in February, Jake called me all excited that he had found a living social deal on skydiving out of Texas Skydiving Center, which is about an hour drive from Austin… Obviously, we jumped on the opportunity. It was also a relief to know my first jump was going to be with someone who has done it multiple times.
As the date approached I started to get super nervous. Thinking of all those (very rare, and mostly only in movies) stories you hear about the parachute not opening. Being typical Charlotte….
The night before almost felt like the night before a big race. I was a jumbled mix of anxious/terrified/excited/doubtful/over-the-moon… I couldn’t sleep worth a darn… But as soon as we hit the highway I was snoozing in the passenger seat on the way to TSDC.
Before doing a high-altitude jump you have to sit in a 5 hour classroom before, where you learn all about the equipment used for skydiving, aircraft procedures, skills demonstration, steering and landing… I decided last minute that I felt better doing Tandem (where an instructor is harnessed to you and he has one huge parachute on his back) So we only had to do the ground classroom for about an hour….Jake as a trooper and sat through the classroom with me even though he’s a veteren. Then we were boarded onto our aircraft where all the gear was strapped to us and it was time for lift off….
Once in the air and the equipment was on, I started to panic a little. I have no fear of heights or anything… But I had one of those “wtf am I doing with my life right now?!” thoughts. Ya know…. just gonna go jump out of a plane and free fall for an entire minute and hope to god that the stranger on my back deploys the shoot… and here I am sitting on the ground of a tiny plane between the legs of a man I just met who is attached to my back….
Jake on the other hand, was easy breezy. Smiles and sunshine like we were just going to jump off of a 2 ft step or something.
A few people go before us, then Jake jumps….. I’m up next. I’m standing in the door of the plane… So much wind gushing at me. Suddenly my instructor yells “GO!” I must have looked absolutely petrified because the camera dude next to me waiting for us to jump smiled a little and said “just remember to breathe” and nudged me forward. Welp, I was at the point of no return, I could jump… or I could let my instructor jump, at which point I would just fall with him. So, I leaped out of the plane.
The first 50-60 seconds of free-fall went by so fast. I didn’t even have time to register “holy fuck I’m plummeting at free-fall speed toward the earth” before the parachute pulled. I did have time to close my eyes for a few of the 60ish seconds and I remember thinking “I’m just a bird….that has no wings and can’t fly, but right now, I’m still a freakin’ bird”
Once the chute pulled, I tried to soak up the experience as much as possible. Time seemed to just disappear, though… The teeny-tiny houses in the distance grew larger and closer. My instructor let me do a few turns to try steering, and before I knew it, it was time to prepare for landing.
I wasn’t sure what to expect with the landing. I expected it to be rough, maybe even a little painful…. But, it really wasn’t at all. The ground was grassy and soft, and while the landing wasn’t “soft”… It didn’t hurt at all.
I still am having trouble putting into words just how incredible the experience was. It was scary, but honestly taking the jump out of the plane was the worst part. The adrenaline rush was unlike any I’ve ever experienced, and the view was extraordinary….
If I ever get the chance, I will certainly be jumping again in a more exotic/gorgeous setting!!!
After jumping Jake and I hung out for a little while and watched other jumpers while the sun set. It was quite beautiful and relaxing! Met so many interesting people from all over the world that were jumping while on holiday in the states
All in all, I highly recommend tandem jumping to anyone who has considered skydiving!! It is an incredible adventure that I wish more people experienced!!!