Sunday, August 11, 2013


Today, Katrina and I did something, as Monty Python would say, completely different.

We jumped out of a perfectly good airplane.

Katrina had this harebrained scheme for some time now, and couldn't get her boyfriend to do it with her.  I'll try just about anything once, so I agreed to take the plunge - literally - with her.  Donna graciously agreed to man the security post at home.

We go through the video, sign the waivers, and pay for our "tickets" which is actually a manifest declaring us to be cargo on our specific "load."  Self-loading cargo, as they say.  Since it's a tandem jump, the most important thing to remember today is DO NOT LOSE THIS TICKET.  It is usable any day if we can't go up today, but it is irreplaceable.  Oh, and you can't have anything in your pockets when you walk out onto the airfield.

So, just before we're to be called, the could ceiling encroaches, and everything stops.  For a long, long time.  We finally get word that the group before us (we thought we were next) is about to go up, but I see just a small opening in the clouds, and with the ride up being TWENTY MINUTES, I'm betting the farm that we're not going.

But then, lo and behold, our "load" is called.  We tritsel over to the car to empty our pockets, and, of course, discover that I have, in fact, lost my ticket.  (Actually, I lost the one Katrina gave me to hold since she didn't have pockets.)

Panic ensues, as we have just a few minutes to get into the suit and harness.  Nothing turns up.  I end up making a plea to the lady who told me NOT TO LOSE THE TICKET, and she says, "well, you're gonna have to," which gets me hopeful...

"go over to the manifest room and get yourself taken off this load."


So I decide to give Katrina my ticket, since it was her idea and my goof, when I'm struck by a realization that makes my hair stand up:  What if all this is a way for fate to keep us off this plane, and I'm "graciously" sending MY OWN DAUGHTER up while I stay on the ground?  Heebie jeebies...

We end up in the manifest room asking if anyone might have turned in a found ticket, and after some discussion between the girls working diligently on their actual jobs, I am relieved to learn that someone has, in fact, done exactly that.  So now it's "ohmyGod we're late and everybody else is ready to go and we're not even suited up and who's going to be our jumpmaster and hurry up and we're going to miss the goddamn load after all and..."

So we meet our jumpmasters, and they double and triple check our gear, and out we march to the plane.  I'm pretty calm at this point.  Katrina is getting antsy.  Mind you, she has never been in an airplane in her life, let alone a rickety little buzzbomb that she's about to jump out of.  We start climbing, and this thing is audibly laboring, and the minutes tick slowly past.  Katrina keeps asking "are we there yet?" and is definitely not at her best at this point.  Finally, all in an instant, the plane levels off, a green light goes on, a buzzer sounds, and the door rolls up to allow a roaring 12,000 ft 120 mph wind turn the cabin into chaos and take our breath away.  Shit just got real.  Out we all go, one by one, Katrina then me.  Sun / sky / plane / ground / sky / ground / other ground / sun / more sky, until the guys gets us oriented and into some serious freefall.  Then we're doing controlled flying for a good 60 seconds or so until he pulls the cord and my harness tries to jerk me through it like a sieve.

And in an instant, all is calm.  The freezing roar turns into calm silence interrupted only by the gentle fluttering of the canopy. He lets me steer for a while, and before you know it, he has us gliding in for a landing so accurate that when we stop, I can literally reach over and touch Katrina.  We are both ecstatic.  What a rush!

It didn't turn either one of us into skydivers, although we'd do it again.  If you like adventure, it's well worth the money; I can't imagine there's an experience like it in the world.

The footnote to the story is the following week, Katrina is flying to California with her boyfriend and her family.  When anyone asks her if it's her first time flying, she'll be able to say, "no, but it will be my first time landing!"

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