Thursday, September 2, 2010

Day 8: A moment, in great detail

Moment: Being strapped to a man while sitting on the ledge of a small plane approximately 14,000 feet above the ground.

Circa 2000-2001. A co-worker had randomly decided she wanted to go skydiving. This was a Sunday I believe. I feigned interest in her plans and she asked me to come along with her. Thursday was the day we set out to Mollala,OR for Skydive Oregon. It was a slightly foggy day but pretty mild out. The drive there didn't take long and as we drove through farmlands and side roads, we eventually found ourselves at the place where 10 other people had met up for the same crazy activity. Our instructors told us that it was too overcast out to fly just yet so they had us go out for a few hours and enjoy Mollala. Mollala is a pretty small town, nothing much going on but quaint and cute just the same. My friend and I found a small hometown style diner where we had a very light breakfast of toast and eggs. In the early afternoon, we all returned to Skydive Oregon and started our training. They showed us how to jump out of the plane, how to position ourselves once we were out there and then what to expect. Despite my fear of heights, I felt pretty good at this point. I wanted someone old and seasoned to be my tandem buddy and I got exactly what I wanted. He was a nice guy and had jumped for years and years. In small groups, we piled into the small plane that was out on the small runway. There were four other people from our class and another more advanced student that was doing her first solo jump. We also had a camera person or two that jumped out with us to take pictures and videotape the entire jump. My mom had insisted that I get the full package that included the photo and video because she's crazy like that.

As the pilot started up the plane and we gained altitude, I got nervous but told myself to focus on the beautiful country side and how small everything looked. Oh yes, I am terrified of heights. We were lined up on these benches inside of the plane, each person attached to their tandem instructor with strong straps. As we went out the side door, one by one, the next person would scoot down the bench getting closer to the open door. It came to be my time and as my instructor put his legs around but slightly under mine, I realized that my feet were out the door and that my butt wasn't touching the plane. At all. I was pretty much completely supported by my instructor. He gave me the "thumbs up" sign and asked if I was ready to go. Before the words could come out, I was terrified. Oh holy scared terrified. Again, words didn't actually leave my mouth because before I knew it, we were out into the wild blueish sky. We spun around a little bit then leveled out into a flat pancake sort of position. The more surface area exposed to the air means you stay up longer. I gave the camera guy the thumbs up while desperately trying not to lose my stomach out of my throat. As we slowly descended, I got to take the controls (two levers on either side of us that controlled going left or right) just for a few minutes over a small lake. I told myself not to land in the lake as I have a great fear of drowning as well.
Source (Obviously not me)

We started to come down slowly and it was more like floating and scenic then scary at that moment. I couldn't believe where I was. Preparing for our landing, I hiked my knees up as high as I could considering I was wearing jeans and had straps around the tops of my legs, butt, and stomach. The landing was a bit rough and I had the grass stains to prove it but I survived! It was definitely an amazing experience.

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