Um, well, my post has nothing to do with the 4th of July, but Happy Independence Day, anyway! Be safe as you celebrate
Ok, so 1st part of this series is all about how I was on an adventure w/no knowledge of my destination. Part 2 was Training. Sorry it’s taken so long to finish this series…work’s been busy and we had guests and activities and etc…Anyway, here’s the finale…
Training finally concluded. pDaddy and the girls were there and I was scheduled to be on the 3rd load. There were 13 students that day and they only take up 2 or 3 at a time. It was after 12pm. All I had was coffee, Gatorade and a couple of Doritos that were in my truck. pDaddy brought me a granola bar to help me from passing out. I didn’t want to eat-eat until after I was done.
It was almost, probably, over 90 degrees at this point. It was my turn to suit up and to say I was sweating bullets is an under statement. Sure, the jumpsuit didn’t help, but I was already sweating before that. Put my goggles and helmet on and my sweat was dripping into my goggles! Don’t let that smile fool you.
Finally, it was our turn and I was told I would jump first since it was starting to get windy and they wanted the smaller ones done first so we don’t get blown too far off, just in case…and by “small”, it was relative. Basically, they wanted the “shorties” to go first. lol. Anyway, I was a nervous wreck.
Thoughts flooded my head…
What if I can’t hang on long enough onto that strut and fall off before my Jump Master gives me the GO? (I was told that was ok and just prepare to arch my back so I don’t swirl and twirl too much).
What if my parachute doesn’t meet the “Is it there? Is it square? Does it flare?” perfect scenario? Will I remember all the things I’m supposed to do to handle the malfunction(s)?
What if I land wrong? What if I lose radio signal w/the Jump Master on the ground that would help us check our chute’s mobility in the air and bring us in for landing?
So.Many.Thoughts.Rushing through my head. I guess my Jump Master sensed it so he kept trying to talk to me about other stuff and would slip in a “You’ll be fine” every now and then…
That ascent to 3500 feet was the LONGEST ever. I felt like we were never going to make it up there. The more time that passed, the more I was ready to back out.
Finally, we reached altitude and the Jump Master yelled “DOOR” to which we had to respond “DOOR” – acknowledging that he was going to open it.
And there it was…
Open fields right underneath us. How beautiful it all looked!
I said a quick prayer b/c I knew that any second, my JM (jump master) would give me the commands. That he did…and what I feared was making me feel like I couldn’t do it
the next few paragraphs are commands and such, but I promise, more fun pics after :).
Command A – GET YOUR FEET OUT
I was given the command, but I couldn’t get my arm on the strut (you’re supposed to hold onto the strut as you get your feet out). I couldn’t fight the wind. I realized that I wasn’t pushing hard enough so on the 3rd try, I did it. I pushed hard and got my hand on the strut and feet on the step. End of Command A.
Command B – GET YOUR WHOLE BODY OUT (aka the one that feels like FOREVER)
This meant I had to get both arms on the strut which also meant I had to turn my body (and feet) from rear facing to front facing and start making my way out onto the strut.
So much was going through my mind that I can’t even remember parts of it. I just know that I did have a bit of a hard time making my way there. I was holding onto for dear life – literally. I was making my way over and almost started grabbing the strut wrong – just like they told us not to do (by wrapping wrist around it). I don’t know how long it took me to make my way over and I know I didn’t fully make it all the way, but I did end up under the mark for where my head was supposed to be (basically, you need to look up at the wing and make sure you are under an orange dot…picture of the plane and where orange dots are in previous post on this). I don’t know how long my feet were off the step before I turned to look for my JM to give me the next command.
COMMAND C – DOT (aka GO aka thumbs up).
All I know is I finally looked and he gave me the GO. I looked up at the mark above my head, took a few deep breaths, let go and arched my back as best as I could.
I almost forgot to count 1000, 2000, 3000, 4000 – which is when I was supposed to check for my parachute to be deployed and check for malfunctions.
I finally got back to the moment and checked my chute and put my hands in the toggles (handles) so I could steer and do my mobility checks. Just then, the JM on the radio came in…
Ok Stephanie. Let’s do some checks. Right 360. Left 360. Flare.
And I did it.
Once that was done he stayed quiet except when he would need to bring me on course so I didn’t drift too far off.
I looked down and just marveled at how beautiful it was. Granted, it was all farmland and most of the crops were still not in sprout mode so a lot of the land was still brown, but it was still beautiful none the less. Simply, AMAZING.
I had mixed feelings b/c I wanted to stay up and float around a lot longer up there, but the straps around my legs were starting to dig in and hurt…then there was a point where I thought I was starting to feel nauseous…probably from nerves or not eating or both. Next thing I know, he was bringing me in for landing…time for my descent.
and my landing…
Pictures prove that I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. I landed softly with a little roll like we were taught to do. I looked up and saw my class, instructors and pDaddy and my girls. I heard the cheers from everyone, but none sounded sweeter than my girls.
2 Saturdays in a row where my girls cheered me on (the previous weekend, I ran 5k). How magnificent is that?
One of the instructors helped me w/my Chute and I walked back, still smiling, giving the thumbs up signs and just in awe of everything that just happened. What a rush!
Holy crap. I did it! And I landed safely! And OMG!!! I JUMPED OFF A PLANE!!! WHOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!
Now, will I jump again?
If you asked me that day, I would have given an emphatic YES!
That Sunday, YES.
As days go on, hmmmm….I really do hate that walking and moving up the strut part and fighting the winds and umm…hmmm…so my answer, MAYBE, MAYBE NOT. BUT, I’ve done this once in my life and I’m happy about that.
Cross this off my Bucket List!
(now do I add free fall solo on there? hmmmmmmm that does mean I would need to do this about 7-8 more times so hmmmm)
~~~~~~~~to see other WW entries, checkout Angie’s blog and link up!~~~~~~~~~~~
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