Skydiving Solo; A Perspective Like None Other
So, I told you there was more after the first skydiving experience from last week, and there is. After that really awesome, but scary as all get out, jump, the company, (Mile-Hi Skydiving http://www.mile-hi-skydiving.com gave me an opportunity to book the 2nd tandem jump and of course, I booked it. I took them up on it in December (in Colorado mind you), and for those of you reading that don’t know where Colorado is… well, it’s in the mountains and it’s cold as all get out in the winter. On the ground it’s chilly, sitting around the 32 degrees F or 0 on the Celsius scale. As you rise up to the 13,000 to 15,000 feet, it is right down nippy. Heck if that was going to stop me. The mountains were covered in snow and the view was amazing. It was beautiful, but the only thing that saved me from freezing my eyelids open was the adrenaline that was pumping through my body.
On this particular trip, I completed the tandem as well, with a separate instructor. We worked together and he helped me to get an understanding not only on when to pull the cord, but allowed me to play with the toggles to steer. He was ever so helpful when he had me pull down on the toggle as we began to turn. Ever so helpful in the fact that this smuck grabbed it and pulled hard. Oh….my…..God… we were completely horizontal with the ground and the G’s that were placed on the body were nothing to shake a stick at. If you have issues with motion sickness.. HEADS… you will notice. I can only imagine the smorgasbord the birds would have had on the way down. 😉 Lovey thought, I know. So, other than a little of the possible sickness, he seriously scared the crap out of me when he did it. After a few more times, it still caused a little queasiness in the belly, but I was certainly less freaked out about it.
Now, I’ve mentioned a few times the issue with my back (broken as a child and had no idea), and it’s impact on the adventure that is my life. After my trips, I learned about it and had it fused. Prior to my next jump, I had it fused a 2nd time after shearing off my screws (from lifting far too heavy I believe), and my skydiving adventures were put on hold. I promised to complete my goal when I was better; complete my first solo that is. This goal finally came to fruition earlier this spring. It was met with flying colors and enough Jack Daniels to choke a horse (afterwards). Again, OH, MY, GOD. Let’s just say that tandem skydiving and solo skydiving are WAY different. I thought I was a bit freaked out after the first tandem dive, but that was nothing compared to the first solo. This experience required 4-5 hours of classroom and practical training (AFF or Accelerated Free Fall, Level 1). This training included a discussion of what can and could and would go wrong and the signing of papers that say, you can die. Heads-the two instructors are near you, holding onto you, but are definitely not attached to you. I was so nervous on this go around I almost chickened out when we hit the drop zone.
There was a little guy on the left of me as the plane door flew open that said “Let’s do this”. This is probably about the time where I think I left my body. I think my heart literally already jumped out ahead of me. Now, even though the jumpmasters are holding your arm, they are only there for so long. We got up to the door, one in front an one in back and we began with the ready commands we had practiced on the ground all morning. The problem at that point has a little something to do with forgetting words when you are scared shitless. Looking out and seeing that that first step is STILL a doosey, made you want to do what the puppy does when he doesn’t want to get in the car. Sit down and not move, maybe drag the butt on the ground. While that’s what all of me was saying, the adrenaline took over and the commands began to come out. “prop”, “up”, “down” and F my life. Out the door we went. It still makes me take a deep breath as I write about it.
I ended up with one instructor on one side and the other instructor on the other side. They signaled to me to begin my checks. First step check the horizon, next look at the altimeter. Yep, there it is and wow, the damn thing look like it was off it’s spring as it rotated like a helicopter blade. So unnecessary. Then it was time to look left at instructor 1, and the signal came to stop kicking my legs. Heck, who knew this was happening? Yep, no clue. I wasn’t sure if they were even attached at this point, and make sure I could feel the chute pull toggle that is on the back right near my butt. Ok, check, that’s fixed. Next, look at instructor #2. Check, thumbs up. Now, do it all over again and hurry up. Ok. Checks done. Time to wave off and pull. Waved and reached back where I “KNEW” the pull would be and I couldn’t find it. It appears the instructor was grabbing my hand and trying to pull it down to the right spot. I swear it moved on me. Afterwards he told me I was fighting him something crazy and that he had to use both arms to grab my one hand to get it on the pull.