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one: skydiving: the activity

so after grabbing a hasty lunch at carl's because we were afraid we were going to be late, we arrive at the skydiving place and find out that *they're* running late because of the fog that occured in the morning. They said, "probably be an hour or an hour and a half."

we decided to wait it out since it didn't seem it would take that long and since Jeff still had to go through the training bit. I didn't sit through the training the second time, but i could hear it from where i was, and it was interesting to note that the teacher (Bill) said almost exactly the same things with the same voice inflection with the same jokes. It made me wonder how many times he's had to do that class and speech. With Dave saying that on average he does 8 tandem jumps a day, i bet Bill has to do a lot of classes.

There was a ghetto pool table that Tyler and I played one game on that i shouldn't have won, but i did. Later, Jeff and i played two games, where i won the first game and he won the second game but shouldn't have. it was funny.

16:45 rolls around and Bill comes over to where the four of us are now waiting and says, "because of the delay we had this morning, we might not be able get all four of you up. we'll try to hurry it along, but it might not happen, espeically if the plane has to refuel." it was a bummer of a possibility, but we eventually agreed that if it was going to happen, Jeff and Stephen should go first since they were the ones that were from out of town.

maybe around 17:30, Bill comes over and says, "who's going first?" We ask him if it's for sure that we're all going up, and he said, "yep. we're just going to have the pilot do a quick fuel... it should be fine." So Tyler and i get suited up. tyler and stephen both got some good pictures of the two of us in our jumpsuits.

i'll post those pics up when i can.

After we got into our jumpsuits, the only other equipment we got were a pair of goggles and an altimeter that we wore around our left wrist. We waited for the plane to get back from its quick fuel (which tangentally caused a small bit of drama between the instructors) and then we got into the plane.

I think that one of the most challenging things about being a stand-up comic has to do with delivery of jokes that are completely new to the audience but waaaaaaay old to the deliverer. Our tandem guys, Dave and Jeff, had a bunch of jokes set up that i guess are supposed to keep the atmosphere relaxed and try to distract nervous people. they were nerdy skydiver jokes, like "yeah, we'll keep the door open the entire time" or "my mom tells me to read this passage every time before i jump" and he shows a passage in a book that's about suicide and depression.

but probably the best joke that happened didn't happen to me, it happened to tyler. Dave had said to him at some point right before they were supposed to hook up, "i have some bad news. The hooks i'm supposed to use to clamp on to your hooks to keep us secure are the wrong size. So i'm not going to be able to connect to you in our current set up. But i have some good news." Tyler said, "what?" and Dave replied, "i just saved fifteen percent on my car insurance by switching to Geico."

when i had committed myself to going skydiving, i was waiting for the moment when the reality of it would hit me and i would get nervous. there were a couple of times before we got in the plane and when we got in the plane where i felt excited, but i'm not sure if i ever felt *nervous*. Overall i felt pretty calm and relaxed, especially in comparison to being nervous for my master's composition recital or speaking in front of the NWMBC board or any other stuff where i was actually in control of and responsible for anything. I wasn't nervous at all.

tyler also didn't look nervous. he didn't really look excited either, but i know that he was. In general i think he looked distracted more than anything else. i could make a good guess as to why, but that's a big tangent.

soon enough, the door opened, and we were ready to jump.

Tyler and Dave were the first to jump, and i think that made it easier for me because since Jeff and I had to jump out pretty quickly after Tyler and Dave in order to be in position, i didn't have time to feel anything... i was in the mindset of executing - following instructions, mentally double-checking that i was doing everything i needed to, and then getting out of the plane. It all happened in the span of less than ten seconds. Before i knew it, i was in free fall.

I remember looking directly at the ground for a couple of seconds before Jeff tapped my head to make sure i kept it up. It was fascinating to see the ground come up. Not scary even a little. Once i got my head up and was in a proper position, Jeff was in control. He rode the air, had us do a couple of spins and turns.

it was pretty fucking awesome. Invigorating. But also somewhat puzzling. I think i expected that it would feel more intense or different than it actually did. The free fall sensation was definitely a new experience, but the feeling of wind and how it felt on my body and on my face didn't feel much different than the times late at night when i would be driving on a highway and stick my head out of the window for a while in an effort to keep myself awake. I wish i had looked down more when he was doing the spins.

still... the sensation of the free fall... what i felt, what i saw. that's what i remember more than anything else.

He pointed to the rip cord at about 5,500 feet and i remember being very relaxed about it. I reached with my right hand, put my left hand above my head to keep my weight balanced, i pulled out the rip cord easily, and then put my hands back in position. The parachute opened, and i remember that it didn't feel so much like i was slowing down from going fast as much as it feeling like i was motionless and then suddenly i was being lifted up.

as soon as the velocity settled when the chute was completely open, the first words out my mouth were "holy fucking shit." Jeff laughed and said, "is that not the shit, or what?" i heard him, but all i did was repeat myself: "holy fucking shit." i might have been smiling.

Then Jeff handed me the controls to the parachute. He had me do a left turn, a right turn, and a flare. After that, we did a couple of spins, but as i expected, this was the part that my body couldn't handle so well since i get motion sickness from *changes* of movement pretty easily, so the rest of the ride down i kept the antics minimal. Jeff did do a couple of other things, and i kept my eyes closed for them just to make sure that i wouldn't feel more sick.

we got down to the ground, i flared, and i landed forward. No problems. It was only then that i realized how badly i had to pop my ears, so i did. it was also around then that i realized that i lost my hair tie in the process, and i wondered if my hair was all over Jeff's face. I should have thought to put my hair beneath my jumpsuit. ah well.

statistics: i was in free fall for fifty-two seconds, and my top speed was 123 mph. I'm not sure when the parachute actually came open, but i'm guessing that it was about 4,500 feet. I'm glad that we chose the 12,000 jump option... free fall was by far the best part, and if we had done 10,000 it would have cut that down to about thirty or so seconds.

In the end my stomach wasn't too happy with me, but i felt worse when i had to leave the theater from watching the Bourne Supremacy, so overall i think it was worth it. I really want to do it again, but i'm not sure how my stomach would handle it. we'll see.

onec the whole thing was over, including Jeff and Stephen's jump where Stephen did some *crazy* turns and flips during the canopy part of the fall, we drove home. I suddenly felt freakin' exhausted, so i said my goodbyes to the group, drove home, and immediately crashed and slept for three hours.

while i was in the air, i had gotten two voicemails on my phone. The second one was from Mark.

Comments

( read spoken (2) — speak )
mich1l
Oct. 4th, 2004 03:35 pm (UTC)
Thank you thank you THANK you!!!!!!
kkatmaxx
Oct. 5th, 2004 11:07 am (UTC)
rock on, dude! skydiving is still on my list of things to do this life...
( read spoken (2) — speak )

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