I was recently organizing a huge file of random photographs on
my computer when I realized I never posted any of the pictures from
my skydiving trip last August. So while it’s kind of old
news, it was definitely one of the highlights of my year so I
thought I’d take this opportunity to share them now.
To say the least, skydiving is
not characteristic of my personality. Its one of
those things you think would be really exciting to do
someday, but then procrastinate on forever because you’re
not sure you’d actually go through with it. So when I very
casually mentioned to Bill last summer that I think I’d like to go
someday, I wasn’t really counting on him actually knowing
a skydiving enthusiast who, as “luck” would have it, was planning
on a jump in the upcoming weeks (our good friend
John Morrison who,
by the way, is an excellent
photographer and has taken
many photos of IFD performances).
I don’t think I slept much the night before the jump. The
thoughts of “I want to jump from an airplane at 14,000 feet
someday!” and “Oh my god, I’m going to jump from an airplane at
tomorrow!” invoke two entirely different emotions, and if
you are ever in need of a list of 100 excuses to get out of a
skydiving trip, let me know, and I’ll send you the manuscript I
wrote that night. But alas, I already paid for the Groupon to
Center (CSC), made my reservation, and committed to John to go,
so...why not? And my favorite of the Frequently Asked
Questions on CSC’s website was pretty reassuring:
Q: What if both main and reserve parachutes fail?
A: You're about to have a really bad day.
(ok, that was just for effect; the full answer is: You're about
to have a really bad day. Statistically, you probably died on your
way to the drop-zone in a car accident. Or were struck by lightning
while winning the Lotto. We won't kid you. Skydiving is a dangerous
sport, particularly if the proper precautions aren't met. As are
many things in life. But like those, if you pay attention to what
you're doing, stay aware of the hazards, and prepare for the
possibility of them, you'll either avoid the hazards or know how to
handle them when they do arise.)
We were a bit late getting there, and the fact that I could miss
two-thirds of the mandatory orientation and still be allowed to
jump was a little unnerving...
In truth though, the orientation is mostly a formality; there’s
not much you
need to know when you’re jumping tandem (i.e., with an
instructor). CSC is a really pro outfit, and since the first jump
is required to be tandem, you can’t really screw it up...even if
you don’t pull your ripcord...which I eventually found out..
And once you are in the plane, there’s really no changing
your mind, as you are literally strapped to a larger person who is
jumping whether you want to or not. Besides, if the teenage kid
sitting next to you is enthusiastically awaiting her jump, this is
really no time to express panic.
At the end of the day, all my fears/concerns were totally
unfounded. The jump. was. AWESOME!!! There’s no other
experience quite like a freefall – pure exhilaration. It
starts at an attitude of about 14,000 feet, from which you freefall
for about one minute at a speed of ~125 mph. After the chute
opens, you have about a five minute descent to the ground. It
is an intense 60-second rush, followed by zen-like peace as you
gently float to the earth, capturing the scenic beauty of the
expanse below. For all my worrying, perhaps the most
challenging part of the entire experience was overcoming the
awkwardness of making small-talk with the strange man strapped to
my back as we softly descended to the
In short, it was a great experience and I highly recommend
trying it at least once. If you’re in the Chicago area, I can
vouch for CSC being a very professional place with friendly,
John Morrison and I suited up for the jump.
The plane! The plane!
On the plane strapped to my instructor. Rock and roll.
One of my favorite pictures, as you can clearly see the
reluctant “I'm not sure about this” look on my face. (He basically
had to push me out of the plane, lol).
And here we go!
Freefalling some-thousands of feet above ground!
(Insert Tom Petty music here)
The “watches” are called altimeters, and they track your
altitude. At around 4,000 feet the instructor taps your wrist
to indicate that you should pull the ripcord and open the
...to the ground.
Me and my instructor, who’s logged in over a 1000 jumps!