As I sat on the floor of the small aircraft with my feet dangling out of the open door and the wind tousling my hair at 13,000 feet above the earth, I glanced over to my husband, shouted (possibly for the last time), “Love you honey!” and rolled out of the aircraft straight to the earth below.
You see, last year at this time, we reached our 5 year anniversary, and we wanted to do something a little fun…adventurous…exciting.
Something at least one of us has never done before.
Sure, we entertained the idea of tandem skydiving for our previous anniversaries, but as the years faded and we got older…and wiser…I didn’t think the idea of skydiving would resurface…and I was fine with that!
I was no stranger to skydiving.
Ten years earlier, I experienced skydiving for the first time in Queenstown, New Zealand…and I loved it! Shaking up my stagnant life is what I was in search of, and so naturally, falling out of an airplane was the perfect remedy…as was tossing myself off of a bridge!
Years later, when my husband and I married, he said that one day, he, too, would love to experience the thrill of skydiving.
“Maybe for one of our anniversaries?”
I thought it might be fun, but the yearning for a thrill of that magnitude wasn’t at the forefront of my bucket list anymore.
Gentle adventures are what I craved.
But alas, we made our reservations to take the plunge for our wedding anniversary knowing that this might be the last chance we get to do something
exciting insane before our adoption dreams came true.
That early August morning, we enjoyed a relaxing drive to Oceanside where Tsunami Skydivers (now called GoJump Oceanside) awaited our arrival.
When we arrived at our destination, apprehension replaced excitement especially when we were requested to sign our lives away!
After filling out our
paperwork we-won’t-sue-you-if-there’s-an-accident waiver, we joined the other participants in the outside waiting area where we watched a group ahead of us get briefed, rigged up and filed into the tiny aircraft.
About 30 minutes later, we watched the van return with the newly invigorated jumpers, eager to recount their adventures in the air!
At long last, our time had come, and we met our assigned instructors that we’d be
flying falling-out-of-a-perfectly-good-airplane with.
Sure, we’re laughing and having a good time here…
…but we’re shaking inside!
After being briefed & harnessed, we boarded the aircraft and were packed in like sardines.
Counting the skydivers in our group, I realized that I was the last one to board, and quick deductions concluded that I would be the first to jump.
Those before me got to sit on benches, but me…I got prime floor seating with a soon-to-be stomach-churning view!
And with that, we were off!
As we ascended higher into the sky, Joe, my instructor, scooted closer to me and attached himself to my harness.
He then started to open the roll-up aircraft door, but for whatever reason, he needed some assistance.
“Jen, can you help me open this?”
As we worked on opening the door, I clenched anything I could on the floor of the aircraft with my free hand to prevent sliding out accidentally.
I looked over at the indicator light on the door. It was red.
Phew! It was NOT time to jump!
I tried to enjoy the view, but the gaping void one foot to my right was at the forefront of my mind!
Joe asked me if I saw a camera on the floor by my feet. Being too nervous to care or wonder why he asked me that, I scanned the floor, reported that nothing was there & then quickly refocused on the matter at hand.
Participants were shouting and having fun in the back, and Joe kept documenting my reaction. Sure I had fun with it, but there were times when I was in no mood for witty banter.
Suddenly, the indicator light turned GREEN!
My stomach churned and my mouth instantly rivaled the California drought.
Joe began to scoot us toward the gaping hole in the aircraft.
“Oh my God! Oh my God!”
I grasped the sides of my harness thinking that would somehow protect me from my inevitable fate.
Everything he told me about a proper dismount vanished.
My feet were now dangling over the ledge.
I said goodbye to my fellow jumpers and turned to look at my husband.
Realizing these could be the last words spoken to him, I shouted,
“Love you honey!”
Random thoughts filled my head including “What the heck are you doing?!”, “Have you gone completely mad?”, “What if the parachute doesn’t open?” and “SH*T!!!!”
When I looked at the earth below and the beautiful scenery all around, I was still paralyzed by fear, but a sense of excitement swept over me.
Adrenaline was at maximum capacity!
Sometimes you just have to give it up to God…and so I did. And with a loud scream, we exited the aircraft.
And let me just say – that first step is a doozy!!!
But what a view it was!
Free falling at 13,000 feet is the most exhilarating feeling I have ever experienced!
For almost one minute, the loud, powerful wind rushed by us at 120 miles per hour.
With an ocean view all around, I couldn’t help but smile and enjoy every second!
I even managed to blow my hubby a kiss!
The two things I forgot from my first skydiving experience though was the immense pressure in my ears and the difficulty I had breathing!
You’re supposed to breathe through your nose & keep your mouth shut.
Well, that didn’t work for me!
I tried various ways to breathe – through my nose, through my mouth, through my teeth, creating “o” shaped funnels with my mouth and even sticking my tongue out…lol!)
But before I passed out (LOL!), the parachute deployed and we were pulled upward to the sky and were soon gliding through the air in pure silence taking in the California coastline below!
I let out a huge sigh of relief, took a deep breath and squealed,
“Oh my God!!!”
Joe kept asking how I was doing & what did I think…and all I could say was “Amazing!!!”
We glided above Oceanside and the Pacific Ocean for a few minutes.
Joe helped me remove my face-squishing goggles to enjoy the scenery below.
He then asked if I could hold his GoPro.
Apparently he lost the camera portion of his GoPro and was only getting video of me this entire time. Hence his earlier request for me to search for his camera on the aircraft floor.
Because he had to navigate with two hands, he needed me to hold this expensive piece of equipment thousands of feet above earth.
“Don’t drop it!”
The hand-off of his GoPro to me was probably more nerve-racking than the jump itself because I was visualizing it falling right out of my hands and possibly onto somebody’s head!
Luckily, that didn’t happen, and it was back safe and sound with Joe after he finished his maneuvers.
A few more minutes of quiet peace, breathtaking views and smooth gliding, and we were headed for the drop zone in a dry field.
I must say, this landing was far better than my first 10 years prior! I literally just put my foot to the ground and took a step! No rear slide-in landing for me this time.
Hubby landed before me since he did some turns & tricks that brought him down faster.
We ran to each other and hugged…happy to be on earth, still breathing and intact & able to celebrate the rest of our anniversary!
Would I skydive again?
Maybe, but not until our little boy gets much older so he can join his crazy parents if he wants to!
(We’ll just see if our bucket list has room for another skydive adventure in 20 years or so!)
As for my husband, he had a BLAST!
You would never guess that this was his first time skydiving. You can see both of our videos in my silly montage below.
I’ve been asked what the worst part of skydiving is for me. I must say, it’s the anticipation…the waiting…the random thoughts of doom entering my head…the seconds before leaving the aircraft…the feelings of utter panic, fear and numbness.
But once you take that leap of faith…all of those feelings vanish!
And if you’re wondering…yes, Tsunami Skydiving gave me a credit for the photos that I didn’t get from my skydive. Luckily, I was able to capture stills from my video.
If you’re ready to shake up your life with an adrenaline rush unlike any other, I highly recommend Tsunami Skydiving (now known as GoJump Oceanside).
You won’t regret it!!!