About three years ago my new friend Dave and I were trying to find a common recreation opportunity. He still rides his motorcycle. I gave that up the third time mine tried to kill me. Dave gave up running 20 years ago because of a common injury and growing older.
He mentioned skydiving and, I said, “I’m in!”
Then COVID happened. Well, the virus has mutated enough that we are close to the new normal and the skydiving outfit is again open five days a week. So yesterday was the day.
We signed waivers promising not to sue them if we died, even because of gross negligence on their part. We stipulated that we were d— fools for wanting to skydive, even after they told us of scores of risks. But we wanted to do it anyway and we were persistent. Five signatures and 30 sets of initials later it was time to jump.
In the US, uncertified skydivers must jump in tandem, strapped together with a trained skydiver, who becomes your human backpack. After you two jump, he pulls the rip cord and then steers the two of you back to the landing field. He gets a jump and some money for ensuring the novice does not die and he tries to increase the client’s excitement.
Cory was my partner in flight. He had buckled, strapped, and then triple-checked all the ways we were bound together. He coached me about where to sit, and how to get down to the open door. Time to put on the goggles. Reminder about posture at the door, to squat down, and where to put hands and feet just before and just after the jump.
It was 100 degrees on the ground and about 55 at jump altitude. Our turn came soon enough. We stepped out.
WOW! That is weird. Suddenly I see the plane. “Oh sh–! What have I done? That is my safest way to the ground, and I can’t get back to it!”
Cory flips us over and there is the Mexican border and the Olympic training facility.
“Please ensure that we land on the US side, OK?”
We’re dropping at about 130 MPH! Let’s hope that the chute opens in less than an hour. We were only at 13,000 feet when we exited. We don’t have an hour to figure it out. Like an astronaut under more than five Gs, my face is pulled back. I may have looked like an audition for a horror movie.
We’re slowly turning. Moving your arms changes wind resistance and thus the direction of your rotation. Have you ever stuck your head out the window at 130 miles an hour or ridden a motorcycle without a helmet at that speed? Don’t answer that question. The wind was LOUD!
60 seconds of free fall.
Then pop! The chute opens and silence.
Listen and silent use the same letters. Maybe you’d be profound when your jump mate could hear you. Amazed, delighted, awestruck, content, and thrilled were among my reactions. “That lake is getting bigger and fast!”
Gosh, have we already come down half the height? Now we’re at about 2500 feet. Then Cory shows me that pulling the left strap pulls the canopy and we turn that way. Pull the right handle and we move right. I pilot a couple of figure eights, while Corey still holds the straps.
Then I release the handles and Cory takes control. He positions us. The landing field is coming up so fast! Lift your feet! Slowing down… yet still faster than I can run. Slower, slower. Poof, we’re on the ground.
Wait. My ears are still at altitude. Oh yeah, hold my nose and blow. Again. Have some gum. One ear readjusts.
There is Dave; he came down as well. What a wonderful surprise.
The adrenaline rush lasted for a good long time. I remembered my first jump for about 25 years. Unlike the first President Bush, I don’t think I’ll repeat past my 80th birthday.
Half the people I told about skydiving were astounded that I was so senseless. The rest have said “I have always wanted to do it!” or “I recall my first time!”
Which camp are you in?
Terry Moore, CCIM, is the author of Building Legacy Wealth: How to Build Wealth and Live a Life Worth Imitating. Read his “Welcome to My Blog.”