WW: Mother’s Day Part 3 – To Jump or Not to Jump…

Um, well, my post has nothing to do with the 4th of July, but Happy Independence Day, anyway! Be safe as you celebrate ūüėČ

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.

suiting up                                     thumbsup_papap_mobile

IMG_5137

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.

plane

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 РGET YOUR WHOLE BODY OUT  (aka the one that feels like FOREVER)

OMG

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.

plane and me

AIRBORNE

22

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.
descent

and my landing…
Flare Flare Flare
LANDING

5

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.

GO MOMMY!
MOooooooooooooooM!
YEAH MOMMY!

done
WHOOOO!

My Cheerleaders:
CHEERLEADERS
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!~~~~~~~~~~~

 

<a href=”http://www.sevenclowncircus.com/&#8221; target=”_blank”>
<img src=”http://sevenclowncircus.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/sevenclownbutton.jpg&#8221; border=”0‚Ä≥” width=”125″ height=”125″></a>

Mother’s Day Surprise – Part 2 –

TrainingI last left off saying I signed papers…waivers and release forms OK-ing me being there. So…I signed…

The next part is Training.

Training started off with a video from the lawyer who drew up the forms. Pretty much saying that we give up our rights for anything should anything happen to us. No lawsuits, no nothing…and if a lawsuit was still pursued, we’d still have to pay the lawyer fees for the organization. I think that was one of the scariest things I ever watched. All that kept running through my head were my girls…my hubby…my family…my parents, siblings, etc…I shook it off and came to terms…if it’s your time, it’s your time. Morbid? Yes. Reality? Yes.

Our instructor tried to break the ice and joked by saying one of his friends refuses to sky dive and thinks he’s crazy and it’s so dangerous (all true), but she’s the one in the hospital from a bicycle accident. touche

The rest of training consisted of learning about your first Static Line Jump – videos, learning parts of the parachute, how to look out for malfunctions…how to cut away main parachute and use reserve (if necessary w/malfunctions). How to “PLF” (parachute landing fall). How to maneuver your parachute (left, right, flare). How to sit on the plane (you face the rear), where to sit on the plane, how to step off the plane…how to grab the strut of the wing of the plane. The need to ARCH when letting go of the plane, etc. All of this was covered in about 3 hours or so with a test at the end.

What made me most nervous (besides all the possible malfunctions and remembering what to do, of course) was the stepping off the plane part. Remember, this is not a tandem jump where you jump off a plane strapped onto your Jump Master. This is a Static Line Jump.,..BY YOURSELF. Static Line Jump basically (best case scenario) means that your parachute will be clipped onto the plane and once the line is pulled taught, your chute will open for you automatically after a few seconds. Because you don’t just jump off the plane and open up your chute, you kind of have to move slowly at first, once that plane door opens. You need to get the go ahead from your Jump Master to A) put your feet out onto the step and hold onto the strut with your left hand (strut = bar underneath the wing – and no, not that kind of bar…though maybe a drink would have calmed my nerves). Then, B) you need to turn your body to the strut (remember you sit on the plane facing the rear so now you have to turn and face the strut/front) and get your whole body out now placing BOTH arms onto the strut and move up the wing as far as possible away from the step. Sounds easy right?

Well, not when that is the area of the plane that has the most wind and not when you’re short. Being that you have to work your way up to the far part of the strut, there comes a point when your (shortish) legs leave the step and you are now moving your whole body, against 80 mile an hour winds (that feel like 300 hundred mile an hour winds) up the strut by just using your upperbody (hand/arms) until you get to the marked spots. Then, you need to turn and look at your Jump Master again to give you the GO signal to let go.

Please see Exhibit A (the angle of the pic is off and I’m sure I don’t have the orange markers exact, but hopefully, you’ll be able to get the jist):
arrows

Why move up the strut/wing, etc.? Well, basically so you don’t hit your left arm / body on the step and have enough clearance from the plane. Why not just jump off? I don’t know, but I kind of wish that were the case and I wish I asked. I think once you are at a higher altitude and get more jumps under your belt, then you probably can.

to be continued…