It was a long and tiring day because your body is pumped, but I had to wait to go last in our group of six. We each went up individually with the only tandem instructor, Pip. In a short short amount of time we all got really comfortable with Pip (I guess trusting your life in someone's hands will do that). Two other guys jumped from the plane on my run. So, four of us, plus the pilot crammed into the TINY Cessna 182 that was gutted and padded and felt the size of a bathtub. Note: the plane had no doors. The two guys jumped at a lower elevation and they slowly stepped out on the platform and positioned their feet on the wheel, then pushed off. This is where I started thinking oh shit!, what have I gotten myself into as Pip positioned himself at the door with only his leg blocking my fall. Just move. I scooted over to sit in front of him, basically on his lap, so I could be strapped to his harness. This was the scariest moment as I was sitting at an open door with NO chute. My muscles were shaking in my legs, but I calmed after I knew I was hooked to Pip and the chute. Then, you simply position your right foot flat to the door and step out on a tiny platform with your left foot and he positions you forward and I brought my right foot out...there was a pause..and before you can think or catch your breath you are falling out of the plane!
It is surreal. I honestly don't think your brain can process that you are falling to Earth. I immediately put my head back and tucked back my legs as instructed and we had a beautifully smooth free fall looking directly down at the ground. Your brain goes silent. Calm. Truly, no fear -- and then just as suddenly you are pulled up as the chute deploys and now in a standing position. Now there is only awe as I looked over the undulating sand dunes and ocean and sunset. I couldn't believe Pip and I actually had a conversation while falling, pointing out landmarks and such. I never guessed I would be calm enough and rational enough to ask questions! He let me steer toward our target landing circle and we even flipped a complete 360. Then the landing -- as soft as stepping off of your bed in the morning. WOW. I was so thrilled I was hugging everyone. The adrenaline rush is awesome and calming at the same time. Awesome doesn't even cover it.
A poem on the wall of the Skydiving Club in Swakopmund, Namibia:
"I had the Thrill of My Life:
You Must Jump to Know,
No words can describe the incredible
Rush when the wind invites you to play.
You are One of
The Few. For a brief moment you doubt,
but the doubt is short lived,
As gravity pulls you from the safety of the plane,
You understand, this
Freedom. No turning back now. But who would
want to?? The dream
of human flight.
You know what it means to