“The key to change, is to let go of fear.”
Sliding towards the door was almost as scary as the fall itself. I knew what I had gotten myself into and there was no turning back now. It didn’t matter anymore. I had committed. Plus, I was attached to another person that wasn’t going to let me change my mind anyways. So, to the door we slid. I put my feet outside of the plane and crossed my arms, as I was taught and instructed to do. Trying to take in as deep a breath as I could we started to count to three. This was it. It was about to be just me, this guy that I just met 45 minutes ago and was entrusting my life to, God, and His beautiful creation. I feel I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me back up a little.
I got to Skydive Dallas early, because that’s the time when I like to jump. Early in the morning is when the winds haven’t picked up yet, it’s still pretty cool, and it hasn’t heated up too much. I checked in and they told me to go put on my jump suit and wait to be called. It was T minus 20 minutes till take off for my group and I was getting pumped about this jump. Why? Because this jump was going to be a “working tandem,” which means that I would be pulling the chute myself. If that wasn’t enough to stress the average bear out, when I met my instructor, he also told me that we were going to be doing some level 5 AFF (advanced free fall) maneuvers during our descent. He said we would do some 360 degree turns and would allow me to take control of the toggles and maybe even land us. I can’t lie; I was a little nervous, but I pushed on knowing this was a moment to grow and overcome a bit of fear.
We get all our gear on and get ready for the plane to pick us up. It pulls up next to us and we get on with about 13 others, not including the pilot. Up we go to 13,500 feet above God’s green earth. It seemed like it was taking forever. This girl next to me was freaking out because it was her first time and the man she was trusting her life to had a stuffed green monkey attached to his helmet. Hard to take that seriously…
It was our turn and he told me to make my way towards the door, so I did. I am sitting so my legs are tucked under the plane as it’s travelling at what has to be over a hundred miles an hour. Three, two, one, we jump….. The adrenaline had already been pumping, but at this point it is in overdrive and I am in freak out mode. He pulls the drogue to slow us down to the speed of one jumper. Then we do our little routine we practiced of big Circles of Awareness, little Circles, and two 360 degree turns, all the while I’m feeling like I can’t breathe. It’s something about the anxiety or adrenaline that can cause you to feel very, very short breathed when you begin to really accelerate towards the earth at 9.8 meters per second squared, or about 18 stories a second. Wow. Fast. The moment of truth comes and he says “pull, pull.” I pull just once though, and the chute comes out just as planned, and a kind of happiness and relieved feeling tends to come over you at that moment. That’s the moment when you know everything is going to be just fine.
So, the fall is the most intense feeling I’ve ever felt, but once the chute is deployed, under the canopy, it is the most calming and quiet moment I have probably ever experienced. I fell in love all over again with this thing called skydiving. He handed me the toggles and allowed me to steer and practice on some turns. Then we practiced landing as we were just floating at about 5000 feet above the ground.
I saw a hawk flying below us and thought, “how amazing and beautiful is that? A hawk flying underneath me.” It was unreal! I felt closer to God at that moment than I think I ever have and loved it, every second of it. We head to the drop zone and he tells me I am going to land us. I trusted this guy and his judgment at this point and did as he told me to, so we could both live to see another day.
As we approached the little 10 foot by 10 foot area we were going to land in, it seemed like we were a little high to be landing on this little spot almost under us. We got closer and closer until he finally told me to pull hard on the toggles and it slowed us way down, until we could land pretty softly on our feet.
It was an amazing experience, both times. I highly, highly, and more highly, urge any and everyone to try it at least once before they go on to a better place. I can’t wait for my next jump, which should be in about another month. Skydive Dallas, here I come!
Bryan K Tresenriter