This was probably the oldest item in my bucket list. Even before I got into running, I always dreamed about Skydiving. All summer, running and rock climbing kept me busy but when Groupon listed the skydive coupon last month I jumped in right away. What's fun in jumping all alone, more the merrier, right? I tried to recruit some friends to join me in my craziness and only one took the bait. Dani, who just got into running and she is already winning some local 5K's and also recently finished her first Half Marathon, didn't even give a second thought. She registered right away and we were all set to pick up a date for the jump. Since both our schedules were kind of busy for 2012, we decided to jump before the New Year. Having the coupon at hand and not jumping was like a placing a bowl of candies in front of a kid and asking it not to touch.
Jan 26, the day after Christmas day, was the day we were scheduled for for our dive. My day started really worse for many reasons and I desperately wanted to jump only to get a call from the drop zone that they are cancelling the sessions due to bad weather. We were just about an hour from the drop zone and was pretty disappointed. Since we had the whole day for our self, we instead went to Fall Creek falls and I rescheduled our jump to 29th on our way. Nevertheless we had a blast at the falls.
29th morning was just gorgeous, sunny, in the higher 50's with no overcast. We got there by noon to fill the paper work. We were made to watch a video that explained the legal implication and had to sign lots of paperwork. Basically it stated that we can't sue anybody for any reason in the unlikely event that we should die. We handed over the paper work and had to wait for our names to pop-up on the screen. Meanwhile we saw some folks who were getting ready to jump. Just watching the the flight take off and skydivers landing with their parachutes was pretty awesome. Excitement was building in and I just couldn't wait to jump.
Around 2PM, our names flashed on the screen along with the names of our trainers and videographer. We were assigned to Load#3. Mike, a no bullshit guy was my trainer and Frank was my videographer. I asked Frank about the freefell time. He said "1 minutes if the parachute opens and a minute and a half if it doesn't", pretty funny but that’s the truth. Mike got my harness ON and he didn't talk much unlike other trainers except for giving me three specific instructions, "1. When I tap your shoulder, extend your hands like a bird 2. Lift up your leg like a scorpion's tail and 3. Don't F@CK up". I had no idea about the #3 though but he seemed to be the guy who knew what he is doing.
We headed towards our bird that would take us up in the air, 16000ft. We settled in and took off. No wearing seat belts, no instructions, nothing. One of he instructor was joking around saying "If anything happens, you are on your own, we will see you down there". The altimeter was spinning around as we slowly ascended to the 16000ft.
When they opened the glass door of the flight, that's when I had the "THIS IS IT" and “OMG” moment. I was the first one to jump from my load. Mike tightened the harness to ensure everything is right and made one final check. We slowly walked towards the tip of the doorway. I could see the clouds below, hear the sound of the roaring engine and I could see the horizon at the distance. I was there standing at the tip of door, 2.7 miles straight up from the ground. No turning back. 3..2..1...and off we jumped.
What happened for the next 1 minute was totally magical, awesome and an out of the world experience. Falling towards the ground at 120mph is something that no words can explain, you got to do it to feel it and experience it. After couple of flips, we got stabilized and when Mike tapped my shoulder I extended my hands. I am flying, wohoooo. We were accelerating at a good speed for the first few seconds but then I could feel that we were falling at a very constant speed. After a point, you don’t feel the gravity instead you feel as if you are floating and flying. Exhilarating feeling. We were making all kind of cool moves, spinning and flipping around. Frank was taking all kinds of cool video shots and photographs. Mike was keeping an eye on his altimeter to get ready to launch the chute. Air was gushing through my face and I could feel my skin moving around like a plastic bag. It was time. Mike signaled Frank that he was going to launch the chute and he pulled the chords. Imagine hitting the car brakes real hard while you are at a cruising at a speed of 120mph. That's how it felt when the chute opened. I was sad when the chute opened but I am glad that it did. LOL.
The next 5mins was just a free ride. A hawk just flew by close to our chute which was pretty cool and we could see he Atlanta skyline. Mike spinner the chute around to add to the thrill which was real thrilling. Moments before hitting the ground the instructor asked me to lift my leg up and we landed just like a flight on our butt. I am glad it wasn't rocky, else it would have been a painful butt slide.
Soon Dani landed. It was one awesome experience. We could hardly hear one another. Must have been the pressure imbalance I guess. Dani was super excited and we spent the next couple of hours talking how cool it was. Though I did strike off one item from my bucket list, I added another one. To get my AFF certification so that I can jump all by myself whenever/wherever I want. Thanks to Skydive Georgia for making it an awesome experience. One helluva day to remember for my life time.